All Stars MVP Brandon Smith to miss NRL opener with injury

By Te Ao - Māori News

Melbourne Storm today confirmed that Brandon Smith suffered a facial fracture in the Māori All-Stars 30-14 win over the Indigenous All-Stars over the weekend.

The Preston Campbell medal winner is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, which includes the Storm’s season opener against Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Lottoland Stadium, and could extend to round four.

The good news for Smith and the Storm is the injury doesn’t require surgery.

The Waiheke Island-born star scored two tries and ran for 177 meters in his inspirational performance on the Gold Coast on the weekend, but admitted afterwards to Te Ao Māori News the game had taken its toll on his body, even predicting a short stint on the side-lines.

“I’m feeling pretty average, eh. My body is not holding up well. Don’t think I’ll be playing next week, sorry Bellyache [Storm coach Craig Bellamy],” he said.

The 23-year-old Te Rarawa descendant has been tipped to be the long term replacement for Melbourne’s legendary hooker Cameron Smith but has played the majority of his 45 NRL games off the bench in a utility role.

His high energy performances for both the Storm and the Kiwis have seen him quickly become a crowd favourite, and earned him the nickname "the block of cheese" from NRL Immortal Andrew Johns.

His absence in the Storm line up for round 1 is likely to see another boom youngster given a chance on the bench, with Bellamy likely to name Harry Young in the side who is also tipped to possibly fill Cameron Smith’s number 9 jersey in the future.