Smith stays with Storm until 2012 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Smith stays with Storm until 2012

By Guy Hand 10/12/2008 04:16:04 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne have worked another NRL salary cap miracle, re-signing captain Cameron Smith for the next four years in a deal the club say is worth much less than he could have commanded elsewhere.

Test hooker Smith, 25, had been considering a big-money offer from the Gold Coast Titans to move home to Queensland.

But on Wednesday Smith signed a contract extension which will keep him in Melbourne until the end of 2012.

Storm chief executive Brian Waldron admitted Smith could have earned significantly more money elsewhere but opted to stay with the club which has played in the grand final for the past three seasons.

"I think there's no better place to be playing footy right now than at the Storm," Smith said.

Melbourne have now managed to squeeze Test and Origin stars Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Smith into their long-term salary cap plans - all having agreed new multi-year deals in the past six months.

It is understood third-party agreements make up a significant portion of Smith's new contract.

They are not illegal in the NRL provided all payments from third parties are disclosed under the club's salary cap.

Smith admitted the birth of his daughter Jada earlier this year had made him and wife Barbara seriously consider moving back to south-east Queensland, where most of their family are, to be closer to their support network.

But they opted to pledge their family's long-term future to Melbourne, and accept less money than his open market value to do so.

Smith, who joined the club in 2002, now wants to finish his career with the Storm.

"My first preference was to be in Melbourne... it was always going to be best for my career to stay here," Smith said.

"With the birth of our first baby Jada early on in the year it was a big factor and we were probably a bit homesick.

"But we had a lot of support from everyone at the club and our ideas on that changed a little bit as the year went on."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Smith's signing was hugely important - especially following Melbourne's disappointing grand final defeat and the off-season loss of important players Israel Folau, Michael Crocker and Matt Geyer.

"He's a big part of our team, he's a key position player, he's the best player in the world in his position," Bellamy said.

"He's important to us on the field, and as our captain, off the field as well."

The Storm have also shored up their off-field future, securing Members Equity Bank as a new major sponsor on a multi-million dollar three-year deal.

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