NRL 2021: The only thing Melbourne Storm star Reimis Smith fears
Such is the new-found confidence of reborn Storm centre Reimis Smith that the only thing he now fears is having to do Craig Bellamy’s torturous and infamous work placement when he gets back to Melbourne in the pre-season.
The former Bulldog will line up in the preliminary final on Saturday night against the Panthers at Suncorp Stadium as one of the NRL’s most improved players after scoring 14 tries this year and fresh from playing a crucial role in stopping Tom Trbojevic in the 40-12 qualifying final win over Manly.
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The 24-year-old missed the gruelling pre-Christmas work placement that all new Storm recruits go through, which involves intensive hard yakka with an employer of the Storm‘s choice in the sweltering heat for eight hours each day for a fortnight.
“I am more nervous for the end of the season,” Smith grinned when asked how his nerves were holding up.
“I didn’t have to do the work program because Melbourne had extended time off and started their pre-season on January 4.
“Trust me, I‘ve heard a lot about it. The boys told me, ‘You were so lucky to get out of it, but eventually they will get you.’
“I reckon that at the end of this year I will be expected to do that work program. I’ve heard it is early mornings, late finishes, early mornings. They place you in a construction site and you work all day. I am looking forward to it, but then again I am not.”
Smith has won 21 of 24 games he’s played this year with the Storm. That’s more than the 17 he won in his 49 games for the Bulldogs across five seasons.
In his first few games this year, Smith said it felt like he was “in the trenches” at his new club. He said “there wasn’t much accountability” at the Bulldogs when he was there but he soon realised that wasn’t the Storm way.
“It was a tough time for me transitioning from the Bulldogs to the best team in the comp,” he said.
“In that first couple of rounds I am sure I wasn‘t the only one who could see that the club footy I was playing wasn’t the best.
“I had a few honest conversations with Craig and he made me accountable for my actions. He was into me about working hard and believing in myself. He said, ‘I am not going to give it to you.’
“I had to dig myself out of the hole I put myself in but after that I think I was pretty consistent.”
He’s been as consistent as you can be at the Melbourne Storm.
Smith lined up in each match of the Storm’s record-equalling 19-game winning streak and played 23 straight games before being rested for the final-round match against the Sharks.
“I am extremely proud of that because it was hard yakka,” he said.
“I look back and I played in all 19 consecutive wins. I am kind of speechless. And to play every game until I got the rest at the end of the season, that gives me another confidence boost – that it is in me and that I can do it.
“Craig won’t give any Melbourne Storm jersey away if that person hasn’t earnt it. That gives me belief and confidence each week.
“My first finals game was last week and I knew it was going to be tough, but I took it personally and went out of my way to stop Tommy Turbo to help my teammates out.
“I thought I did a pretty good job. It gave me a big boost going into the preliminary final.”
Originally published as NRL 2021: The only thing Melbourne Storm star Reimis Smith fears
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