Reimis Smith is fast making himself at home on Melbourne's right edge, taking a six-figure pay cut to enjoy the benefits of Craig Bellamy's famed spittle-laden coaching.
After a rocky Storm debut against South Sydney in round one that had both Smith and Bellamy exasperated and the veteran coach insisting he "just make your tackles", the 23-year-old is now flying with five tries in his past two games.
Smith is back for another bout with the Rabbitohs' lethal left edge this Thursday having grown up in Redfern, spending several years in their junior system en route to an NRL start at Canterbury.
Last year when Melbourne was hunting a replacement for rugby-bound star Suliasi Vunivalu the Bulldogs flyer loomed large on their radar, but only at a reduced price given a tight salary cap for the premiers.
NRL.com understands that Smith's two-year Storm deal sees him sacrifice a little over $100,000 after being granted a release by Canterbury last November.
That Souths season opener saw Smith treated to one of Bellamy's trademark sprays, before last week's sub-par first half against Cronulla was easily the best blast he has seen from the champion coach yet.
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"That one definitely worked, and we definitely deserved it, he didn't miss," Smith said with a laugh of Bellamy's half-time address last week, after which he bagged a second-half hat-trick.
"I'm definitely feeling at home here now. I'm lucky to be out wide and have scored a few tries in my last few games.
"I'm feeling good in the system now after taking a few games to find my place.
"I'm loving Craig's coaching. He's given it to me after that last Souths game, the message was just make your tackles.
"We were on the same page for sure, I wasn't happy with my defence that game and neither was Craig.
"I think the spray comes from a good place, he knows what you can do, and that's how he's trying to get you there."
COVID-19 restrictions that forced Melbourne out of their home city for much of 2020 meant Smith did not get the typical "coffee date" treatment from Bellamy and his recruitment staff.
It was instead a couple of Zoom calls with Bellamy and chief scout Paul Bunn which ended up with Smith sold on shaking up both his life and career like never before.
"I was a bit unsure about moving to Melbourne, it was a big move for me because Sydney is basically all I've ever known," Smith said, with his partner joining him in the Victorian capital recently as well.
"It's where I grew up and all my family's there, so it was always going to be a big change.
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"But it also kind of clicked pretty quickly and I said to myself; 'this is Melbourne that wants you, it's Craig Bellamy. This is a pretty massive opportunity'. It didn't take long to convince myself.
"It's satisfying to see the hard work pay off. There's plenty of hard work to come too obviously. I had been to Melbourne once before in my life, but I love it here and I'm loving the footy I'm starting to play."
The chance to play alongside Josh Addo-Carr, who Smith has known since their early days at Earlwood Saints, played its part in getting him into the same purple jersey at a cut price.
Both knocked around in the Rabbitohs junior system as kids, though Smith's is more a tale of him taking his chances with first Parramatta and then Canterbury, rather than being overlooked or brushed by the Bunnies growing up.
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"I grew up in the area and was a Souths junior, I used to love watching Greg Inglis do his thing," he said.
"I was in their system from under-12s and 13s through to Harold Matts and a year in SG Ball.
"I wouldn't say I missed out or anything, the opportunity just came up elsewhere and I moved on.
"Foxxy [Addo-Carr] was a bit older than me but we were at the same club and I promise you, he's exactly the same as he was then.
"He was just as loud and just as cheeky. It was a massive attraction in coming down here and wearing the same jersey as him, he's a great player and a great bloke, he always has been."
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