‘We’ll keep all three’: Storm keen to retain Grant and both Smiths

Melbourne are expecting Cameron Smith to make a decision on his future ahead of a board meeting next Tuesday as Storm chairman declared his intent to retain Harry Grant and Brandon Smith if the veteran hooker opts to play on.

The development comes as the Storm consider Alex Johnston as a potential replacement for Sydney-bound winger Josh Addo-Carr.

Cameron Smith is weighing up a call on his future.Credit:Getty

Smith is yet to make a call on whether to continue playing in the NRL for a 19th season, with the club hopeful the matter will come to a head prior to a scheduled meeting of directors next week. The former Queensland and Australian skipper is agonising over the decision amid interest from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Should he postpone retirement, Melbourne could lose his long-term replacements. Harry Grant, currently on loan to Wests Tigers, has an out-clause in his contract in the event Smith decides to go around again. The manager of another potential long-term hooker, Brandon Smith, has told the club his client wants out should his namesake continue to block his path to the No.9 jersey.

However, Storm chairman and co-owner Matt Tripp believes there can be a place for all three in Craig Bellamy's side in 2021.

"To suggest that Cameron playing on means those two are going to leave, it's fanciful. That is not the case," Tripp told the Herald. "I will fight hard to get creative as we have always been able to do in any business that I've been involved in.

"You need to think outside the box. There is a way through. If you can't combat hurdles that are put in front of you, you're in the wrong game. No hurdle is insurmountable and this certainly is a scenario where they could complement each other very well in the same side. That's something we need to work out in the next week or so."

The Melbourne board will meet next week to discuss, among other things, the salary cap and rostering implications of Smith's decision. Even at the age of 37, the Storm skipper remains near the top of his game; when Dally M polling went behind closed doors at the halfway point of the season, he was just one point shy of Grant on the leaderboard.

However, there are fears that Grant and potentially even Brandon Smith could be lost if Smith plays on.

Asked how the three hookers could fit into the team at the same time, Tripp said: "That's not a call for me, that's a call for Craig.

"But I'm not giving up. If Cameron decides to play, I'm not giving up on all three being in the same side."

Melbourne are prepared to release Addo-Carr from the final year of his contract on compassionate grounds if they can find a suitable replacement. Rabbitohs back Johnston is among those identified as players of interest. Johnston has scored an NRL-high 14 tries this season but hasn't got an offer from Souths for next season.

"He's been playing great for us. If we can keep him, we'll do that, that's our intention," Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett said after the record win over Manly.

"If we can find the money in the cap somewhere, that's our challenge. That's the way it has been for the past six months."

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