“We had to have a crack at it because there was only two minutes or so left but on that fifth tackle, as I was coming to that play-the-ball I saw Brodie flying around to our left hand side and Cameron Munster was already there,” Smith, who won the Anzac Medal, said post-game.
“So I just [long pause] ‘mentioned’ to Brodie that he should get over to that other side and have a crack at the field goal.
“Thankfully he hit it pretty good, got a nice deflection off the upright.”
Croft said Smith’s composure was priceless in that moment as he set-up the kick and a 13-12 win.
“We had numbers on the left and I’d seen an opportunity there but Smithy recognised it was the fifth tackle and with his composure, he made sure I got into position and lucky enough the strike came off,” Croft said.
“I didn’t think too much about it, I just had to kick it as that’s my job.”
Croft is only 24 games into his NRL career and missed two field goal attempts in last round’s 21-20 loss to Sydney Roosters in golden point extra-time.
This past week he worked too hard on his kicking, ending up with a tight groin after the captain’s run and unable to kick for goals.
He managed to loosen up enough to take the game-winning kick but he was feeling it a little after the game.
“With any kick you feel it a little bit, it was more awareness but nothing too serious,” Croft said.
Croft has already build a reputation for being a diligent worker who puts time and effort into his game, especially his kicking, and he aims to strike the ball well enough to go through the middle rather than rely on the posts.
Still he was happy to take the game winner however he had to.
“It kept hooking a little bit, I was just thinking, ‘Hold your line, hold your line’ and fortunately it did and the woodwork was in our favour,” Croft said.
“I like to kick it clean through ideally but I was fortunate enough that it come off tonight.
“I unfortunately didn’t get it last week, I was lucky enough to get it this week. The practice is paying off so hopefully I get a few more cleaner shots in future.”
The Storm have a 6-1 (win-loss) record and a 10-day break before facing Cronulla Sharks in Sydney on Saturday week.
Croft and his teammates are looking forward to some days off after a hectic April although he knows Thursday night’s win exposed several issues, most notably miscommunications in attack.
While Croft has much to learn about running the Storm in big moments, Smith said his recovery in kicking his game-winner showed he is moving in the right direction.
“We are talking about about a halfback who has not even played 30 games yet,” Smith said.
“In those moments you see the experienced players and they know exactly where to be and where they want that play-the-ball to be and our guys are still learning that and I thought it was a great effort from Brodie to get back into position and take that kick.”
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.