Storm Skipper to Collect Only Missing Honour

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith is our pick for the Clive Churchill Medal.

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith is our pick for the Clive Churchill Medal.

Melbourne is one of the hottest favourites in Australian National Rugby League Grand Final history but there is a odds-against way to bet on the Storm defeating North Queensland in Sunday’s ANZ Stadium title decider.

There is a rock-solid case for backing Melbourne to beat North Queensland in the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final – the Storm have won each of their last five matches versus the Cowboys, including both of this term’s clashes for which the Victorians were not at full strength. Melbourne defeated North Queensland 23-22 at AAMI Park in Round 15 of the Australian National Rugby League and the Storm ran out 26-8 winners in Round 22 at 1300 SMILES Stadium – yes, that is the home ground of the Cowboys.

Bookmakers are forecasting a double-digit triumph for Melbourne in the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final and one would not dissuade anyone thinking about betting on the Storm covering 10-point-plus spreads – the score could get ugly if North Queensland’s tired and weary foot soliders fall behind and lose enthusiasm when their premiership dreams are shot to pieces. North Queensland’s players must be close to running on empty after having to post back-to-back-to-back away victories over Cronulla, Parramatta and Sydney to qualify for the main event.

But better still is the idea of backing Melbourne captain Cameron Smith to receive the Clive Churchill Medal that a panel of rugby league experts award to the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final’s man of the match.

The Australian National Rugby League’s most capped player of all time, Smith has won almost every individual and team honour that his sport has to offer since debuting for Melbourne in 2002. The one major prize that has alluded Smith is the Clive Churchill Medal, with the award going to his Melbourne colleagues Greg Inglis, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk in the Storm’s three Australian National Rugby League Grand Final successes under the on-field leadership of Smith and the off-field management of Craig Bellamy.

The greats of Australian rugby league have received the Clive Churchill Medal so, with Smith aged 34 and edging nearer and nearer to retirement, this weekend may be one of the last chances for his peers to honour him with the prize. Because Smith plays hooker, he touches the ball in almost every one of Melbourne’s attacking plays and he makes about 50 tackles per game since he defends in the middle of the pitch. Furthermore, Smith is Melbourne’s regular goal kicker so he hits the scoreboard on a regular basis. If Melbourne wins then Smith will play a pivotal role in the Storm’s victory and, if the Clive Churchill Medal judges want to acknowledge him, they will not have to try too hard to do so. Put it this way: it may take a Melbourne player to score a hat-trick of tries to prevent Smith breaking his Clive Churchill Medal duck because he is so highly regarded.

Betfred is offering odds of +300   about Smith succeeding Cronulla-Sutherland star Luke Lewis as the Clive Churchill Medallist and that is simply too big when one considers that Melbourne is trading at odds of around -333   to take out the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final in Sydney. One thinks that Smith represents genuine Clive Churchill Medal value at odds in excess of +150   given one’s one-sided view of the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final match and the Storm skipper’s stature in the competition.

Tips Summary

Cameron Smith to win the Clive Churchill Medal
Sunday 1st October, 09:15 GMT
Odds:  +300