Cameron Smith's iconic long-time coach Craig Bellamy remains completely unawares as to the champion hooker's future plans.
In what's become one of the strangest episodes in rugby league's bizarre history, Smith is yet to confirm whether he's retiring from arguably the greatest career ever seen in the game, or playing on.
It is clear that Smith will no longer play with Bellamy's Melbourne Storm, where he notched 430 NRL games and three premierships. There remains speculation that he could join the Gold Coast Titans and the Brisbane Broncos have flagged interest, yet the 37-year-old hasn't done any pre-season training with a team. The competition begins on Thursday night.
Bellamy told SEN radio on Wednesday that is seemed Smith had retired; yet he couldn't be sure, having previously been coldly shut down when he'd asked.
"With Cameron, I'm not quite sure," Bellamy said.
"You'd think how close it is to round one, he wouldn't be playing this year. Twelve months ago he said this is the situation, but if anyone could come in and play to a high standard of footy without too much of a pre-season, it's Cameron Smith.
"Again, I wouldn't be surprised if he does play again, but I wouldn't be surprised if he retires as well. He plays his cards pretty close to his chest, Cameron. I know when people ask me they think I do know, but I don't."
Bellamy said that he hadn't bothered too raise the subject with Smith the last time that he'd seen his long-time Storm captain.
"I went to his book launch and we met up for dinner," Bellamy said.
"We've had a few conversations, probably six or seven conversations on the phone, his decision or his announcement of the decision didn't come up.
"I tried that a couple of times last year and got a fairly icy response, so I haven't brought it up again."
Bellamy is weighing up his own future: whether to remain with Melbourne in an over-arching role after retiring from coaching at the end of this season, or taking a deal with Brisbane or Cronulla.
"I know it's dragged on but I've had a couple of things that have come up that have been a little bit more important than that," Bellamy said.
"Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I'll be able to make my decision."
Melbourne, the defending premiers, begin their campaign at home against South Sydney on Thursday night in the NRL season opener.
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