If ever there is a year made to send a footballer into retirement, it's 2020.
Via Roy Ward/The Age.
From the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic to the two-month break forced by lockdowns, you might think a 36-year-old like Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith already has an eye on the exit.
But Smith isn't ready to say goodbye. His form has shown he is as influential as ever and, like previous years, the Storm's 2-0 record suggests they are deep in the NRL premiership race.
The Storm will resume their season against the Canberra Raiders at a crowdless AAMI Park on Saturday night and the 413-game hooker maintains his future will be decided by his form and his health.
"The games aren't going to change and that's where my decision will be made from," Smith told The Age.
"Not from not playing in front of crowds or travelling on game days and travelling home and all these different protocols.
"It's more about how I'm feeling going into a match or how I'm feeling coming out of a match. It will be about how I'm feeling come round 16. That's what will determine my decision about what happens in 2021.
"If this was to be my final year, it would be much better if we were playing in front of crowds. But just because there are no crowds, it doesn't mean the games will be any easier and that will be the yardstick to see where I'm placed physically and mentally at that halfway mark, three-quarter mark of the season."
What will make this season so gruelling is the daily measures required to stay on the field with players reporting their health and movements each morning via a phone app and being told to remain at home when not at training.