“I’ve had a good break after another pretty big season in 2019. I’ve had time to relax and put my feet up and I’m feeling pretty fresh now,” Smith said.
“I’m looking forward to next year. I’ve been given some ‘long service’ leave [from training] as I had last year as well, so I won’t be back until the New Year.
“That seemed to work really well last year. It gives me plenty of time to freshen up and get ready for another gruelling season.
“I’m excited to see the squad improve on last year … and seeing the younger guys go to another level again in 2020.”
But what must be clear to the Storm is that Smith’s time in the game is fast coming to an end so they must make use of his talents while they can.
In 2020 there should be every opportunity for the team to take that step further and add another trophy to their collection with the most recent coming in 2017.
Smith is still one of the game’s pre-eminent play-makers and goalkickers while Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, Ryan Papenhuyzen and wingers Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu are all in their primes or fast approaching it.
The loss of centre Will Chambers to Japanese rugby will be felt but they have players ready to step up as shown by Justin Olam’s rise.
The Storm’s forward pack is also stacked with talent although salary cap pressure and opposition offers could well see someone like Christian Welch or some others lured away after 2020.
The NRL world was hotly discussing the possibility of Smith switching from his favoured hooker role to half-back next season, to reduce his defence load and let young guns Brandon Smith and Harry Grant step up. But in a tweet on Thursday, Smith poured ice cold water on it stating he wouldn’t be moving to half-back next season.
For now, Smith will be on holidays until the first week of January and pre-season training.
Once he returns then all eyes will point towards round one and Smith will have one more record in sight. He is on 45 tries – two away from passing the 46-try tally of coach Craig Bellamy.
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.