Smith in NRL folklore with injury secret
NRL Grand Finals are built around the bravest moments in the game's history.
John Sattler playing with a broken Jaw in the 1970 Grand Final. Sam Burgess with a broken cheekbone in the first hit-up of the 2014 Grand Final. Or Cooper Cronk hiding away from Melbourne's hit-men in the 2018 grand final with a broken shoulder blade.
Now Storm captain Cameron Smith has his own chapter of NRL Grand Final folklore after the 37-year-old was revealed to have played the entire decider against the Panthers on Sunday night with a broken rib.
The injury was first reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, which revealed Thursday Smith carried the ribs injury for more than three weeks after he suffered a broken bone or serious cartilage damage to his right side in the Storm's win over Parramatta in the first week of the finals.
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The Storm did everything in the club's power to keep the injury a secret to stop rivals from targeting the weakness in the Storm's run to the grand final - but rumours began swirling after he was spotted following the Storm's win over the Raiders with padding and strapping across his right side.
The report reveals the injury was so significant it forced Smith to miss training sessions. Despite this, the three-time NRL premiership-winner was cleared to keep playing by Melbourne's medical staff following scans three weeks ago.
Smith's body was showing the wear and tear you'd expect of a 37-year-old at the end of a bruising season, but he was as instrumental as ever in the Storm's win. His performance even prompted one corporate bookmaker to pay-out bets on Smith winning the Clive Churchill medal as the best player on the field.
Ryan Papenhuyzen was handed the prestigious medal.
All up, Sportsbet paid out a little over $5 million to those banking on Smith taking home an extra piece of silverware.
Smith also made 34 tackles with the damaged ribs - and successfully convinced the entire NRL world there was nothing wrong with him.
With Smith chirping away in the ears of the referees in the second half, it was simply business as usual for the future Immortal.
The NRL Match Review Committee reviewed Smith's controversial words to referee Gerrard Sutton in the wash-up of the Storm's win - but found there were no charges to be brought against the No. 9.
Smith appeared to question the integrity of the officials when Jahrome Hughes was sin binned with nine minutes remaining in the game.
"The last three or four penalties they have got is little very picky stuff and we have got nothing mate," Smith said before Sutton gave Hughes his marching orders.
"I get it, everyone wants an exciting finish. But we are just the same as them. Stop trying to pick little things out of our game to make an exciting finish."
Originally published as Smith in NRL folklore with injury secret