“Not really, which is why it makes the decision really hard,” Smith said. “I’ve spoken to a few of my ex-team-mates that have now retired and they told me it was just one day they woke up and, in their mind, they didn’t want to do it anymore.
“That was the reason they knew it was time to finish up. I haven’t had that feeling yet. There’s lots of things to consider, outside of just how I feel and whether I think I can play on. After this game, I’ll do some thinking and make a decision.”
Whether it’s smoke and mirrors from Smith remains to be seen but the proof has been in the pudding when it comes to his performances on the field. There has been little sign of him slowing down and he was everywhere in defence against the Raiders, including a 60m try-saver late in the game.
The Storm won’t fly down to Sydney until Saturday afternoon and have been allowed to complete their preparations in splendid isolation at their Sunshine Coast base. Aside from some extra media commitments, the week has been identical to almost any other.
Smith believes that could be a crucial advantage, especially given the much brighter spotlight being shone on the hometown Panthers as they try to turn their remarkable winning run into a grand final triumph.
The setting has been so relaxed in Queensland that Smith arrived at the grand final press conference in shorts and thongs.
“It’s like nothing I’ve been involved in. Only once, in 06, we flew to Sydney for the grand final breakfast and returned to Melbourne for the rest of our prep,” Smith said.
“Other than that, we’ve always been in Sydney fairly early on, Tuesday or Wednesday, getting ready for the game. There’s a fair bit going on, formalities, press conferences.
“This is quite relaxed, which I hope will benefit us, particularly the young guys experiencing their first grand final. This is the same build-up we’ve had for every other game this year. I think it’s important that you try to keep the same routine as much as possible.”
The Storm are flush with grand final experience. Craig Bellamy will take charge of his ninth, Smith will feature in his eighth and co-captain Dale Finucane will run out for decider number seven.
Meanwhile for Penrith, only James Tamou (Cowboys 2015), Api Koroisau (Souths 2014) and Zane Tetevano (Roosters 2018) have appeared in grand finals, with all three having premiership rings from their efforts.
“You always take confidence in a game when you have experience like we do. I think the guys that have been there a couple of times before have been vital to our side and if they play well, it’s only going to help those younger boys in our first grand final.”
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he had still yet to finalise his bench and would make a call whether to carry four forwards or continue with utility back Nicho Hynes. Part of that will depend on the fitness of Tui Kamikamica (ankle), who Bellamy expected to get through a final series of testing sessions.
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