When Cameron Smith formally announced his retirement from professional rugby league today, I didn’t expect to feel quite this emotional.
I knew it was coming. The Storm had moved on. There was speculation he’d play on.
But he hung the boots up on his 430-game career and suddenly a lifetimes worth of memories flooded over me.
As I grew up, Cameron Smith, alongside Storm greats Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk, grew into their careers. As I got older, they simply got better and better.
No matter what I was going through, I could always turn on the tele and watch my heroes do what they did best – play football.
Since making his debut all the way back in 2002 – when I was 9 – Cameron Smith left his mark on every Storm fan – hell – every rugby league fan.
From the amazing highs of multiple premierships, a stack of grand finals, and countless wins to the lows of salary-cap enforced wooden spoon – Smith has been there through it all.
Through all the years, the ups and downs in my life, and for a lot of other people, the Smith-led Storm was a constant.
So when final confirmation came through that his playing days are over, it still stung.
The man with basically every record, every medal, and the most games in a demanding position finally called it quits.
No more will we see his unrivalled game management. His ability to win the unwinnable games or his amazing pep talks.
No matter what you think of Cam Smith – we are saying goodbye to an era of rugby league that now lives in the past, tales we’ll tell our grandkids and talk about in the same way Vossy talks about the 80s.
Enjoy retirement, Cameron!