TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA – JULY 23: Brandon Smith of the Storm warms up before the start of the round 19 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Melbourne Storm at QCB Stadium, on July 23, 2021, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Contracted Storm forward Brandon Smith has been urged by teammate Ryan Papenhuyzen to follow in his footsteps and re-sign with Melbourne for the future.
The Storm announced on Friday that Papenhuyzen had inked a new contract extension to remain in Victoria until the end of the 2025 season.
The decision followed the retention of supercoach Craig Bellamy, who will enter a 20th campaign next year in leading the Storm from his coaching post.
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 30: Craig Bellamy, Coach of the Storm talks during the post match press conference after the round four NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Melbourne Storm at Southern Cross Group Stadium on March 30, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Bellamy will take up a directors role with Melbourne after the 2022 season, while also leading the pursuit to find his successor.
The mastermind coach’s re-signing was a key factor in Papenhuyzen committing to the club for a further three seasons as the Storm look to continue their 21st century dominance.
With a bevy of superstars already signed for the long haul, Smith frames as one of the missing pieces to the next Storm dynasty puzzle.
The New Zealand international is currently contracted to the club until the end of next season, but is sure to gain surging interest from rival clubs should he remain unsigned come November 1.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 16: Brandon Smith of the Melbourne Storm runs during a Melbourne Storm NRL media session at Gosch’s Paddock on May 16, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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The Roosters are the latest club to show interest in the gun dummy-half, while the Bulldogs, Tigers, Broncos and Titans have expressed their desire in the past.
Smith was granted to pursue an early release from the final year of his contract last December, a decision the Storm have since looked to backflip on.
With the club now a strong chance to retain their cult hero, Papenhuyzen has backed Smith to sign on the dotted line and join his teammate in their venture for further success.
“It would be a massive signing if we could get the Cheese (Smith) and hopefully he’s got the same mindset as me,” Papenhuyzen said, per The Daily Telegraph.
“The group is sort of formed now and it would be pretty special if he was to sign on as well.
2021 SEASON AVG
“And with Bellza (Bellamy) re-signing, hopefully a lot of players will see that and want to come to the Storm.
“And I know Bellza and Cheese have a pretty good relationship and it’s a bit of a love-hate one, so hopefully he can sign and make that happen.”
The Storm’s push for premierships past this season will be hindered by the departures of Dale Finucane (Cronulla), Josh Addo-Carr (Canterbury), Nicho Hynes (Cronulla) and Brenko Lee (Brisbane) at this year’s end.
The club will however welcome Maroons and Broncos young gun Xavier Coates and Bulldogs utility Nick Meaney, with the duo hoping to fill the voids of Addo-Carr and Hynes respectively.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 14: Nick Meaney of the Bulldogs passes during the round 14 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Stadium Australia, on June 14, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
With Harry Grant set to man the No.9 jumper, Smith has been utilised further forward and could be the club’s answer to replacing the departing Finucane.