Smith hits 400 on golden night for Storm star
The only thing different about Cameron Smith's coronation as the NRL GOAT was the shiny golden boots worn by the 400-gamer.
Smith, 36, isn't one to make a song and dance about anything, apart from family, football and fast cars - Holdens specifically, but the milestone man put in another masterful display to deliver Storm its 14th win of the season.
There was tears and cheers before the game, Smith's wife Barb caught up in the emotion in the sheds, while adoring fans in the stands stirred into frenzy as their captain marched up the race out of a purple smokescreen and through a well-deserved guard of honour.
"I just couldn't have thanked my teammates and thanked the crowd tonight, and everyone that's been involved in my career enough, to get me to this moment and what a great result," Smith told Fox Sports after the match.
"It's a nice memory that I'll remember for the rest of my life."
Credit to Cronulla's men, unapologetic Storm haters, who joined in the celebration along with the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater and family, including Smith's parents Wayne and Sonia.
Wayne Smith had arguably the best seat in the house, and deservedly so, sitting on the Storm bench, while the AFL's 400-clubbies Brent Harvey, Michael Tuck and Kevin Bartlett were not far away either.
Storm and Smith did what Storm and Smith have done for the best part of two decades.
But Smith did wind back the clock a touch.
A try assist for apprentice Brandon Smith in the first half brought back memories of seasons past when Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk ducked up along the short-side to score.
He showed one way and went the other, allowing Brandon 'the wombat' Smith to burrow under three would-be tacklers.
If body language is anything to go by, the tactic was not only spoken about during the week but practised to perfection.
Then, deep in the second half, Smith did his best Cameron Munster or Josh Addo-Carr impersonation after swiping an intercept, baulking past one then two, then daring to dream of surging towards the stripe only to be brought down by Andrew Fifita from behind.
Smith doesn't score much and would rarely admit it, but surely then, in the moment, the skipper's eyes lit up as would-be career try No. 44 beckoned.
The captain calmly banked eight of nine shots at goal, including three penalties, to keep the scoreboard ticking over in another sublime display.
All that is left now, for Smith to do, after knocking the top off a frosty Great Northern or three in celebration, is get back to work and prepare for game No. 401 and beyond.
The show must go on.
MELBOURNE 40 (B Smith 2 B Croft C Munster J Olam J Stimson tries C Smith 8 goals) bt CRONULLA 16 (K Capewell A Gray S Johnson tries S Johnson 2 goals) at AAMI Park. Referee: Ben Cummins, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski. Crowd: 22,737