Revealed: Broncos’ bold plan to copy Lions with Smith deal
The Broncos desire to recruit ageless champion Cameron Smith next season has intensified after the club's week from hell.
Signing with the Broncos is considered the third most likely outcome for 37-year-old Smith next year behind retirement or re-signing for a 20th season with the Melbourne Storm.
But the Broncos, despite not being in any rush to make the approach, will not die wondering and will play up the virtues of Smith and his family moving back to Queensland as a transition to retirement.
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There is a chance Smith could be offered an off-field role with the club if he retires as a player but it would be far more attractive for the Broncos to have him playing his final season at hooker.
With Darius Boyd retiring and the team floundering near the bottom of the ladder the Broncos have a chronic shortage of leaders and Smith would be seen as a cultural chief as much as anything, playing the player-mentor type role Luke Hodge performed so well at the Brisbane Lions.
Hodge's recruitment was seen as a pivotal moment in turning around the club's culture.
Rarely has a club needed a senior professional more than the Broncos who have lost 10 of their last 11 games.
Smith's possible recruitment could shape the future of the club's former long-serving hooker Andrew McCullough who was in strong form for Newcastle before requiring hamstring surgery which has ended his season.
McCullough is contracted to Brisbane for next season but has settled in so well at Newcastle the Knights may be keen for him to stay.
McCullough left the Broncos without major fanfare but the club has missed the steel he adds to the defence which was sadly lacking in a season where the Broncos are on course to concede more points per game than any in their history.
The 30.8 points conceded per game this season is on track to be easily the worst in club history - the previous worst was 24 per game in 2009.
Their 13.6 points scored per game is also the fewest in their history - and the seventh worst in the 23 year history of the NRL.