Veteran supercoach Wayne Bennett has revealed it was a young Cameron Smith who rejected the Broncos in favour of the Storm, not the other way around.
Off the back of the 430-game veteran’s retirement announcement on Wednesday, Bennett revealed new insight into a fateful meeting when he first crossed paths with a teenage Smith.
Bennett was coach of the Broncos at that time and had a meeting with Smith, a Logan Junior, about possibly calling Red Hill home.
It didn’t come to pass, with Smith eventually joining the Melbourne Storm where he would go on to play a record 19 seasons, winning three premierships, and two Dally M medals.
But Bennett insists it wasn’t the Broncos who were cold on Smith, it was the future superstar who wasn’t convinced.
“Cyril Connell (Queensland great and former Broncos recruitment) saw him play first, I saw him play and under 17s game and he wasn’t playing hooker at the time,” Bennett told reporters on Wednesday.
“He came to Broncos, his father came, his manager came and it was myself and Cyril in the room.
“We made him an offer but I just felt he didn’t want to play at the Broncos. It was a good offer but the bottom line was he made a choice to go to Melbourne.
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“It was his choice, as I said we wanted him there but he didn’t think it suited him for whatever reason and that’s fine.”
Asked whether the legendary No.9 was the one that got away, Bennett said: “No, not really because we tried to recruit him.”
“It wasn’t a poor decision by us, he just didn’t want to play there for whatever reason. That’s just the way it works,” he added.