Never satisfied – the Steve Waugh ethos that drives Smith

Cameron Smith has more mountains to climb and new frontiers to explore.

The Queensland Maroons legend has just been where no man has gone before in notching 400 NRL games for the Melbourne Storm, but his creed has always been one, by his actions rather than his words, that reflects the title of a book by former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh.

Writing about a record breaking year in cricket in 1999, Waugh entitled his book Never Satisfied.

Not that he was not pleased with his achievements or that of his team, but one of the secrets to his success was that he looked forward not back. In retirement, he still does.

"People say 'do you think about your cricket career?' and I rarely think about what I did. I don’t think about stats. I’m too focused on what I’m doing now," Waugh told The Guardian in 2015.

"I’m more stimulated by what I can do rather than what I have done. So I try and think, 'what’s the next challenge? What am I going to do next?'"

Matt Geyer, one of Smith’s early mentors at the Storm, said his former housemate was the same on that score.

Cameron Smith in action during his 400th NRL game. Photo: NRL Images
Cameron Smith in action during his 400th NRL game. Photo: NRL Images

"A lot of guys have played 300 games, but many of them have retired not long afterwards. You could almost see that was the goal," Geyer said.

"Cameron has broken the 400 mark and he is not looking back. He is looking forward and thinking 'where else can I go?'"

The first place Smith will go is the Gold Coast on Sunday, where he will aim to lead the Storm to a victory and retain their six-point gap at the top of the NRL ladder.

In the next two months he will have bigger fish to fry.

The minor premiership will be just a stepping stone to an October 6 trip to ANZ Stadium where Smith will be aiming to win a fifth grand final. Two of those, of course, have been taken off Melbourne for salary cap breaches.

NRL clubs often have windows of opportunity when it comes to premierships that only stay open for so long. The Storm have been in eight of the past 13 deciders, including the last three.

Cameron Smith. Photo: NRL Images
Cameron Smith. Photo: NRL Images

It is the solitary win from 2016 to 2018 that will be stick in the craw of Smith. One title in that time will not satisfy him considering Melbourne’s dominance from week to week.

The Sea Eagles had a premiership window from 1995 to 1997 when they won just one out of three deciders. The Sydney Roosters played in four grand finals in five years between 2000 and 2004 and also tasted success just once.

This Saturday is the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the lunar surface their job wasn’t done.

There was the not too small matter of getting back to earth for a start, but the astronauts spent 21 hours on the moon conducting valuable research that provided NASA with a great understanding of the alien landscape.

Smith is not an astronaut, as far as we know. Outer space is not his realm. The playing field is. It is where he has reigned supreme for the best part of two decades, as a player who seemed to know in advance what was coming next.

Like the moon walkers of 1969, Smith's work is not done.

Geyer said if you could GPS plot every move Smith made on a footy field and then review where he went, all his steps would be the right ones.

Cameron Smith during his time with the Queensland Maroons in 2015. Photo: NRL Images
Cameron Smith during his time with the Queensland Maroons in 2015. Photo: NRL Images

"And even if he did choose the wrong way, he would make it the right way. If the right option was to go left but he went right, then he would put someone through the line with a kick or a pass," Geyer said.

"Now that I have been doing so much junior coaching, you know how you see the under 12s coach with his players and he is throwing dummies and carving them up because he knows what they are going to do before they do it…well Cameron is at that point in the NRL.

"Unfortunately for the opposition he often knows what they are going to do before they do it. He has just got that sixth sense that no one has seen before.

"If you started looking at rugby league for the first time in season 2019 and didn’t know about the past, you would look at Cameron and say he is one of the best players in game. Even without his history, on his 2019 record alone he is still one of the game’s best, so why retire?"

When he does, Smith will be the subject of plenty of debate about ‘the best of all time’.

"Andrew Johns was always special because his brilliance was obvious. There was the 30 metre cut-out to hit the winger on the chest or the brilliant run with the step, and then the step. Then there would be the goal kick from the sideline or putting the front-rower on his backside with a good hit," Geyer said.

"Cameron’s subtle brilliance opens it for debate, but the game is rugby league and there is no one more rugby league that we have ever seen than him."

One thing is certain, and that is every move Smith makes on a field has massive repercussions to the outcome of a game. His influence knows no bounds.

To borrow Armstrong's immortal words… one small step for Smith is one giant leap for the Storm.

Cameron Smith. Photo: NRL Images
Cameron Smith. Photo: NRL Images