Where are they now: Craig Smith
Melbourne Storm will be visiting Perth this weekend, the same city that one of our inaugural players now calls home.
Craig Smith will forever hold a special place in purple hearts.
In the 76th minute of the 1999 decider, it was Smith who scored arguably the most famous try in Grand Final history.
That penalty try against the Dragons handed Storm their maiden premiership triumph in just their second year of existence.
Despite the head-high hit, Smith luckily remembers every bit of that game.
Eighteen years later, you can now find the former winger in Perth where he works as a handyman as well as a high-end personal trainer.
The Perth natives are not exactly rugby league inclined, which makes for some interesting interactions down at Smith’s local pub.
“My local pub down the road is a watering hole for the South Perth rugby league Club and they have all the NRL games on,” Smith said.
“You sit down there at the pub sometimes having a beer and some old bloke will sit up next to you and ask ‘do you know much about this rugby league game?’”
‘Not at all’ is often his response.
Upon reflection he does see the rugby league landscape over there as similar to what he first experienced down in Victoria back in 1998.
“It is no different to what we went through in those first couple of years in Melbourne,” Smith said.
“We were walking around and were three times the size of everyone else, that is how they knew who the rugby league players were back then.
“Nobody knew anything about the sport. At our first game they were cheering and I don’t think they knew what they were cheering about.”
After two seasons and 20 games in the purple jersey, Smith remained at Storm in the commercial department as a Corporate and Hospitality manager.
He spent 18 months in the role before realising he needed a change.
Born in Armidale, NSW, Smith grew up around farming and the great outdoors. A desire to go back to his roots saw him move to the outskirts of Melbourne where he spent the next three years on a bit of land.
Life then lead him to Perth in 2006 and is where he has been ever since.
A stint in corporate, some farming and now health and fitness with a bit of handyman work thrown in has taken Smith down many different paths after his retirement.
“After retirement I wanted the business suit, a lap top and a company car,” Smith said.
“I got all of that but everything kept drawing me into the land and drawing me back to health and fitness.
“That is the main thing you’ve got to do, you’ve got to go back to doing the things you enjoy doing, especially over the money.
“A lot of people go for the money and they are miserable with what they do. Of course we need it but at the same time you put all this pressure on yourself to be something.”
Now Smith is perfectly happy where he is today.
He will be there in person to see his old side take on the Bunnies this Sunday and will be reuniting with former teammates at the Old Boys function later this year.
For a man who helped give this Club its first ever premiership, the purple doors will always be open no matter how far from home he may now be.