Smith: NRL record not key factor behind Storm deal
Cameron Smith said the chance to become the first player to reach 400 NRL games was not a key factor behind his new deal with the Melbourne Storm.
Long-serving Storm captain Smith, 35, ended speculation over his future by signing a two-year contract on Wednesday.
There was uncertainty surrounding Smith, who said he could retire following Storm's loss to the Sydney Roosters in last season's Grand Final.
Smith – who has made 384 NRL appearances – is now set to hit the 400-game mark, however the former Australia international and Queensland representative is not solely motivated by records.
"It was certainly in the back of my mind. [But] it has never been a motivating factor to continue playing in order to reach milestones," Smith told reporters on Thursday. "If I was at a stage at the end of last season where I was struggling to play games and I was struggling to recover each week and my performances weren't up to scratch, I would have taken that out of the equation and decided to finish.
"No one has ever played 400 games in our code, and I don't think anyone would have thought the first person to do it, if it happens, would be someone from a Melbourne rugby league team. You'd think it would be someone from Sydney.
"I hope I can achieve that feat. I've got about 16 matches to play so I'll get them out of the way and worry about that when I get to it."
Smith's contract renewal took longer than many anticipated amid months of uncertainty in Melbourne, however, the veteran revealed he wanted the Storm to focus on re-signing key players like Cameron Munster.
"My thought process was to ask the question. If it was a deadset no from the club, then that was the answer and I would have been happy to go ahead with the 12 months and then reassess during this season for 2020," Smith said. "It was more about the time in hand, I was in no rush at all knowing that I had three months off. From my end there was no pushing the club into a decision.
"We had some talented young guys coming off contract the club were looking to retain or extend. It's something I've always been very wary of around my negotiations is who we can retain in the club as well. There's no use me going in and signing a contract and having no quality players around me as well.
"The perfect example was Cameron Munster. He's one of the best players in the competition at the moment and it was important that the club retained him. I spoke to the CEO and said to Dave [Donaghy] that if he is of higher importance make sure that gets done first."