Tackle Count: Can Cameron Smith save the Broncos (or Titans)?

ON THE MOVE: Storm veteran Cameron Smith. Picture: Gregg Porteous/NRL Imagery
ON THE MOVE: Storm veteran Cameron Smith. Picture: Gregg Porteous/NRL Imagery

Should Smith leave the Storm?

He's been one of the most polarising players in NRL's history, but it's hard not to respect Cameron Smith.

The veteran hooker has played more than 400 NRL games, won multiple premierships, and guided Australia and the Maroons to great success. At 37, many people expected Smith's form to dip this year, but he still been a standout for the Storm.

And while he has achieved almost everything in the game, there has been one remaining challenge suggested - could Smith turn around a struggling team's fortunes?

The Broncos have basically hit rock bottom in 2020. It feels like barely a day goes past without Brisbane being linked to an off-field controversy, or speculation over coach Anthony Seibold's future, or another poor on-field performance.

Brisbane definitely need some strong leadership right now, and the idea has been floated that Smith could take on a captain-coach role at the Queensland club.

Would the Broncos suddenly become a premiership contender with him? Probably not, but you can guarantee they would put up more of a fight.

And while the Smith to Broncos talk won't go away, another discussion about the veteran is starting to gather steam. Could he play for Gold Coast next season?

They may be 13th on the ladder, but the side has shown considerable improvement under Justin Holbrook. The addition of Smith, alongside 2021 recruits David Fifita, Herman Ese'ese and Tino Fa'suamaleaui, may make the Titans a considerable outfit.

Of course, the more logical option is Smith will run around with the Storm for another year, or hang up the boots. But time will tell.

Speaking of which, it's getting to that bittersweet time of the season where we have to farewell some of the game's favourites.

Tigers veteran Chris Lawrence announced on Tuesday that he would hang up his boots at the end of this season, less than a week after Shannon Boyd was granted a release from his Gold Coast contract to retire.

Who else will we see follow suit in the coming months?

For now, credit must be given to Lawrence for being a one-club player and representing his beloved Tigers in 250 NRL games. He is arguably the second most popular player (behind Benji Marshall) in the Tigers' recent history.

"There's a lot that I admire about Chris, from his toughness to his character on and off the field. In doing so, Chris has set the standard for what local juniors of Wests Tigers should aspire to be," Maguire said.

"To have played the entirety of his 15-year career with Wests Tigers, Chris has shown tremendous determination and drive in all that he does, and I am sure the future generations of this great club will always look up to that."

FAREWELL: Tigers favourite son Chris Lawrence (with coach Michael Maguire) at his retirement press conference this week. Picture: Grant Trouville/NRL Imagery

FAREWELL: Tigers favourite son Chris Lawrence (with coach Michael Maguire) at his retirement press conference this week. Picture: Grant Trouville/NRL Imagery

A number of subplots will feature this week. Can the Sharks upset the Panthers? Will the Dragons deliver a first-up win for interim coach Dean Young? And will Martin Taupau's return inspire the Sea Eagles to upset the Rabbitohs?

The round kicks off tonight with a crucial clash between premiership contenders Parramatta and the Storm. Buckle up for another interesting start to the round.

* This edition of Tackle Count was written by Joshua Bartlett.

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This story Can Cameron Smith save the Broncos (or Titans)? first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.