Storm utility Brandon Smith lost a stunning eight kilos in four days after breaking his jaw as he revealed how nervous he was on making his return to the playing arena last week.
The 24-year-old broke his jaw in the round 15 loss to the Eels but returned after just four weeks to play 46 tough minutes off the bench in the 50-22 win over the Wests Tigers at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
"I lost about eight kilos in the first four days. I was just drinking through a straw and the soups my missus brought were disgusting," Smith grinned after the match.
"I was barely eating but I have managed to put on a few kilos. I was 98 kilos and I am 94 now so I am trying to hold that, but it is very hard for me because I do like to indulge.
"Mentally, I was really nervous going into the warm-up and running into the pads. I was hesitant and holding my face away from contact.
"Then when I got out on the field, Smithy [Cameron Smith] threw me a hospital ball and Russell Packer hit me straight in the face with his shoulder. I thought that if that’s not going to break it, then nothing will."
Get Caught Up: Round 19
Initially Smith was looking at a possible six-week absence but said he was ready to come back early.
"I got through some contact at captain’s run and it felt good," he said.
"I got a few contacts to the head and the physio advised me that if that’s not going to break it then it should be fine.
"With Christian Welch being out I thought I’d like to be in the team to help them out. Everything worked out well.
"It is only up from here and hopefully I can play next week and get a bit fitter because the legs felt like they were in a heavy track at Randwick."
Smith isn't planning on having a broken jaw again but if he does then he intends to take a leaf out of Canberra forward Sia Soliola's book. Soliola was blending KFC after his recent jaw break.
"I heard that but I didn’t try that," Smith chuckled.
"I thought that was really weird, but hats off to him. I really want to try it now."
The Storm have three front-line hookers on their books in skipper Cameron Smith, Brandon Smith and Harry Grant, who is on loan to the Wests Tigers this year.
If off-contract Cameron Smith decides to stay play on next year then the Storm will deal with the impact that has on their other two rakes as it unfolds.
Grant, who does have a clause that allows him to look elsewhere if Cameron plays on, is on contract until 2022 as is Brandon Smith.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said "Brandon is on contract next year so will be here" when asked about the Kiwi international's future.
Brandon said there was no pressure on Cameron Smith to make a decision.
"I just want to focus on trying to win the comp this year," he said.
"We don’t want to indulge in the decision that Cameron has to make so we will just have to wait and see.
"Obviously, with Cam, the decision will determine me and Harry’s future but there is no pressure on him. If Cam ends up leaving I will definitely stay at the Storm but until then we just don’t know."
Bellamy said he wasn’t 100 per cent sure if Grant would be at the Storm next year, pending Cameron Smith’s decision.
"I don’t really know that answer but I think it is more likely than not that he will," he said.
Bellamy was effusive in his praise of Grant after another top-shelf display for the Wests Tigers against the club he is contracted to.
Match Highlights: Storm v Wests Tigers
"We all know what Harry brings to a team but he has obviously brought a lot more to the NRL than a lot of people realised,” Bellamy said.
“I don’t think anyone at our club or the Tigers considered he was going to bring as much as he has.
“Not only does he line up in the middle and get run at by all the big guys, he is always chasing the guys that make the breaks as well. He is one fit athlete and one talented footy player.
"We are proud of him coming up through our system and we wanted to try and give him a tougher night. He might be dreaming of Nelson [Asofa-Solomona] running at him because Nelson seemed to find him fairly often.
"He stood up as he has done all year and we are real proud of what he is doing."