Smith's big call in Bellamy's hooker 'headache'

2 months ago 11
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Brandon Smith is the Melbourne Storm's starting hooker heading into the 2021 NRL finals series.

That's the word from his predecessor and club legend Cameron Smith who believes the Kiwi No.9 holds the edge over prodigy Harry Grant who had an outing in the Storm's 34-20 win over the Titans.

The Storm equalled the all-time NRL premiership record of 19-consecutive wins tonight on the Gold Coast, as Grant put up a herculean effort to finish the night with 12 runs, 150 metres, a try, two line-breaks and 45 tackles.

It again throws up questions around who should be handed the reins come the business end of the season, with both Grant and Smith having previously diplomatically fielded speculation over their positional job-share.

Harry Grant (Getty)

However, despite the "headache" facing Craig Bellamy, the best No.9 to go around has given his seal of approval to his namesake.

"It's a tricky situation given the quality of the players that have come in. Harry Grant is a State of Origin player. He played exceptionally well tonight, particularly in the second half," Smith told Nine's Thursday Night Footy.

"He sent a message early to the Titans. He ran the first two sets, and from then on they couldn't stop him. 150 metres gained from dummy half, that's a great effort. He was close to best on field.

"It's a huge headache for Craig Bellamy. I feel as though he's going to put Brandon Smith into the starting No.9 jersey. It's where he's played the majority of the year with Harry having been injured for the first part of the season and playing the majority of his football off the bench.

Brandon Smith of the Storm celebrates (Getty)

"But then you have to think about Nicho Hynes. Jarome Hughes comes back in, he's been a standout for the Storm so there's a lot of quality players there with only 17 positions to fill. It's a great headache."

As of November 1, Smith, who is off-contract at the end of 2022, will officially be free to speak with rival teams about his future.

While the 25-year-old is said to prefer his traditional position of hooker he has also proven himself as a valuable lock, which would be an attractive option for a rival club that may be looking for a versatile forward.

Despite the New Zealand international's on-field talents, NRL guru Phil Gould claims the personality and character of Smith are just as important when it comes to determining his value.

Brandon Smith. (Getty)

"One hundred per cent [you factor in personality and character]," Gould told Wide World of Sports' Six Tackles With Gus.

"There are rare diamonds there that are such an influence on the chemistry and character of your team.

"You've heard me talk previously about the difference between culture and chemistry … and it's a really distinct difference that people don't get it.

"Success, or the long-term success or the sustainability of your club, comes through the culture and the standards you set and the way you think about your football."

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