“It will be a challenge for him – it could be a really good challenge to spark him up a little bit.
“He knows all the structures and everything like that. I’d be excited to watch it, really excited.”
If Smith wears the No.7 it would give the Storm a new-look spine of Brandon Smith at hooker, Ryan Papenhuyzen at fullback and Cameron Munster being Smith’s halves partner. Jahrome Hughes could start in the centres or come off the bench, potentially spending some time at dummy half if required.
Smith will add to his record 411 first-grade appearances after deciding to continue playing in 2020. Johns believes the shift to halfback, where he would have less defensive work to do, could potentially extend his career even longer.
“If he plays halfback and doesn’t have the workload, if Cameron goes well he might continue playing,” Johns said.
“One of the things for a halfback is that feel – which takes a long time to master – that feel for the game: when to speed it up, when to slow it down, controlling it with your kicking game. He would do it a lot better because he will be fresher and will make better decisions.
“I wouldn’t have thought that in a million years that [a Smith-Munster halves combination] would happen. That would be a really exciting halves pairing. I hope he does it.”
Melbourne must shed at least one player to be cap compliant after Smith opted to play again next season. Canberra have expressed an interest in centre Curtis Scott, while Brodie Croft’s best chance of a starting halves spot will likely be at another club.
Melbourne haven’t waited for anyone to depart before re-signing four key members of their forward pack. Kenny Bromwich and Tui Kamikamica have recommitted until the end of 2022, Christian Welch has taken up his option for 2020 and Albert Vete has been given a one-year extension to include the 2020 season.
The quartet have all played representative football: Welch for Queensland, Bromwich for the Kiwis, Vete for Tonga and Kamikamica for Fiji. Welch is recovering from an ACL injury that thwarted a potential transfer to the Eels.
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.