Smith delivers speech for the ages
Photo Source: AAP
Cameron Smith has further enhanced his reputation as the NRL's leading statesman after delivering one of the game's greatest speeches after Melbourne's grand final loss to Cronulla.
Smith was booed almost as loudly as the Sharks were cheered as he led the Storm onto ANZ Stadium on Sunday night.
After 80 torrid minutes and an agonising 14-12 loss in which he made 67 tackles, Smith displayed no signs of the bitterness of defeat when congratulating the Sharks on their maiden premiership triumph.
""Can I give a massive congratulations to Shane (Flanagan), Paul (Gallen) and the Cronulla Sharks for a wonderful match," said Smith.
"You guys have had a fantastic year. You deserve that premiership trophy. I hope you enjoy that one.
"I would like to congratulate the Cronulla Sharks, their club, all the fans.
"You guys have been waiting a very long time for this moment. It's taken a lifetime.
"Many people that supported the club for a long time didn't see a premiership. Everyone here tonight has. I hope you enjoy it thoroughly, well done."
As a long time State of Origin nemesis, Queensland captain Smith's popularity in NSW has ebbed and flowed.
Time and again Smith has delivered in the interstate arena and has been a key figure in the Maroons winning 10 of the last 11 series.
But his humility in grand final defeat will ensure Smith is now more fondly regarded across the rugby league divide and the Australian captain remembered as one of the all time greats for his feats on and off the field.
"congratulations to the @Cronulla_Sharks on winning the big prize last night.. Unlucky to @storm but what a great speech by @camsmith9," Greg Inglis tweeted on Monday.