Cameron Smith will be missed but Melbourne Storm will find a way to step up during his absence

It’s unusual for the Melbourne Storm to be without Cameron Smith — he’s played 400-plus games and I don’t think he’s missed too many — and it’s a huge blow.

To have someone of the calibre of Cameron Smith out of the side [with a shoulder injury] — you’re definitely going to feel it.

But in saying that, the Storm’s system is so strong that when one of their stars is injured, the people who come in always step up.


They’ve got a great hooker coming in Brandon Smith, who will fill the hole.

He’s a quality football player, a strong runner, and a really good defender. They’ll lose a little bit with Cameron Smith going out, but they’ll also gain in different ways with Brandon Smith coming in.

I think it’s a little bit of uncharted waters for the Storm, but Craig Bellamy will get them humming and they’ll be fine.

Their attack may be jeopardised a little bit but they’ll get used to it pretty quickly.

One thing about Cameron Smith is, he’s pretty much like a coach, so he’ll be out there during the week helping Bellamy on the training track.

I’m also excited to see how the Storm do perform without him. Cameron Smith is getting a bit older now, but he’s still playing some of the best footy of his career.

He might retire at the end of the year, he might continue to play on, or he might go to another club — there’s been a lot of speculation about him going to Brisbane — but right now, we just don’t know.

What we do know is that Cameron Smith has always been the man for Melbourne and he has always been the leader for that side.

He knows how to come up with big plays at the right time — under all sorts of pressure — week in, week out for the last 400-plus games.

Two Melbourne Storm NRL players celebrate a try against the Gold Coast Titans.

Two Melbourne Storm NRL players celebrate a try against the Gold Coast Titans.

Cameron Munster (right) will need to step up and lead while Smith is sidelined.(AAP: Dan Peled)

You can’t replace that. Cameron Munster is an off-the-cuff instinctive footballer and he’s a superstar in his own right but I do think he relies on Cameron Smith a little bit when it comes to keeping a cool head.

It definitely gives an opportunity for him to step up and lead now.

I think Brandon Smith will be a good leader as well, because he has come up under the guidance of Cameron Smith for a long time.

They’re going to miss him big time, but it does give other guys an opportunity to put into practice what Cameron Smith has taught them over the years.

Indigenous Round is important to NRL

When I was playing, to see how much the NRL’s Indigenous Round actually means to the Indigenous Australian players is pretty special.


What is happening at the moment is that everyone’s starting to ask real questions, people are starting to get involved a lot more, even in the community when it comes to helping out [Indigenous events and groups], which I think is amazing.

The other thing I really loved about this season’s Indigenous Round was the way the players performed and how passionate they were about it.

Look at South Sydney. The Dragons really started the game off beautifully last Thursday night, then the Rabbitohs lost Adam Reynolds early to injury and I was a little bit worried. I wasn’t sure who was going to step up.

But they had people like Cody Walker — and all the Rabbitohs’ tries came from Walker and the Indigenous players — and they were doing it with a smile on their face.

The leadership shown by Walker in the Rabbitohs number six jersey really stood out, I thought that was an amazing game from the New South Wales State of Origin representative.

An Indigenous NRL player dives over, holding the ball in his right hand with his other arm raised.

An Indigenous NRL player dives over, holding the ball in his right hand with his other arm raised.

South Sydney’s Cody Walker gave a fitting performance for Indigenous Round.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

The way the Indigenous players represented their Aboriginal families and culture was beautiful to watch.

I liked that there were players involved in designing the Indigenous Round jerseys and telling their stories.

Manly’s Joel Thompson told some great stories and showed leadership in telling people that if they just ask questions they will get on board and start to understand the backgrounds of where people have come from.

I really feel we bridged a big gap on the weekend.

Crowd control an issue

There’s definitely a concern about what happened yesterday on the Sunshine Coast with the crowd numbers at the Storm-Knights match.

Lots of people in a crowd watching an NRL game

Lots of people in a crowd watching an NRL game

The packed eastern hill at Sunshine Coast Stadium showed the league needs extra precautions.(Supplied)

There are people around who govern this and they were still happy with it all but I do believe we need to keep that situation under control.


It’s more important for us to keep our supporters in a safe environment, while at the same time we want to keep the game going. But the more that sort of thing happens, the more chance there is of making things a little bit worse.

I do believe we need to be taking the right precautions to keep our game running but also making sure we keep the fans happy.

It would be crazy for us as a league not to take precautions, as there are so many possible repercussions if this does go wrong.

We’ve seen what has happened down in Melbourne, which is so sad. We could be right back to square one and I don’t think we can afford that as a game.

But we’re really enjoying our football at the moment — indeed football, I think, has never been better.

Luke Lewis was talking to ABC News’s Andrew McGarry