Brandon Smith has revealed the stress of adjusting his body size to play two positions at Melbourne has contributed to his decision to chase a full-time No.9 spot at a rival NRL club.
The 24-year-old is in battle with Harry Grant to replace Cameron Smith as hooker this season, but if he should lose out to the reigning rookie of the year, he is open to moving on.
For Smith, the difference in ideal body weight between lock and hooker is about six kilos, which is a constant juggling act he’s not willing to do anymore.
“I got down to 93kgs a couple of seasons ago playing 13 and it wasn’t great,” he said on Friday.
“I felt fast but I felt like I was getting thrown around a bit more than usual.
“I usually play at around 98 or 97kgs but if I was to be a No.9, I’m training to lose weight and be about 92.
“That’s a big difference in weight.”
Following the Storm’s premiership celebrations, Smith had a frank discussion with coach Craig Bellamy about his desire to be a long-term hooker and whether it was a realistic option with the club.
But with the New Zealand hooker and Grant on the books, Bellamy couldn’t make promises, so granted him permission to look elsewhere beyond the end of this year.
He will be free to leave should the Storm be given a player of similar calibre as a trade in 2022.
It’s a decision Smith pondered over for a while, saying he was happy to switch roles while 430-gamer Cameron Smith was in the No.9 role, but he doesn’t want to wait any longer.
“It wasn’t a hard conversation (to have with Bellamy), I just said how I felt and he respected my decision,” Smith said.
“But at the same time, he’s a coach and his job is to put the best side out that’s going to win a premiership.
“We both didn’t see the point in me getting a release for this year with that spot still up for grabs.
“He said that he’s not just going to give the No.9 jersey to Harry, or he’s not just going to give it to me.
“We both have to go out there and take it.
“I respected what he had to say.
“One thing you know with Craig is he’s going to be super honest with you, he’s not going to beat around the bush or anything, which I respect about him.”
The Storm’s representative players returned to training on Friday, with former skipper Smith still nowhere to be seen.
His teammates are none the wiser on whether he will play on, but are resigned to the belief that if he does, it won’t be at Melbourne.