“Cameron Smith would definitely improve this team, he would improve any team. But Craig Bellamy is still there and that system is still there,” Slater told Wide World of Sports.
“There has been no shortage to date, and I don’t think many people will escape the storm.”
Melbourne apparently acknowledging it was time to move on by appointing Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane as co-captains, Slater said it was impossible to quantify Smith’s impact on the team as a whole.
“It’s a collective to replace Cameron. We’ve seen his leadership, it’s an area of the game that Jesse and Dale will need to fill a void, but also Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes and Ryan Papenhuyzen,” Slater said. .
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“Some of these guys are quite young, but it’s time for them to step up and find a leadership role.”
But while players with a pedigree at Origin and internationally will not be in short supply, there are many other aspects of Smith’s departure that are virtually irreplaceable.
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“Obviously when you lose someone like Cameron Smith who has been so influential on this team for so long, there isn’t just one thing you lose,” Slater said.
“Given that Harry and Brandon are probably more dynamic No.9s than Cameron were – Cameron had a great deal of subtlety in his game. They are both pretty explosive players and that’s probably the only thing to which the team had to adapt. “
Slater said players around the scrum should approach each game in a different way than when Smith was leading the team, and that they should be proactive, not reactive.
“If you react to their (Smith / Grant) running, it’s too late, you have to react to the things they see that indicate a run. This is probably the most important thing I see.
“The No.9 makes the first decision every time the ball is played. So in a sense they have the most important job on the pitch because they dictate everything.”
Because Smith didn’t have the YouTube highlights compilations from a player like Slater or Johnathan Thurston, sometimes his genius went unnoticed. His former teammate said opponents were often defeated before realizing something was wrong.
“That’s the most dangerous part of him. He can beat you up without you even knowing it – that’s the beauty of Cameron,” he said.
“You look at Ryan Papenhuyzen or Latrell Mitchell – you know when they’re brilliant. But Cameron can be the most influential player in a game and not be in the top five.
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“He can influence the game so much and you don’t even recognize that he does.”
Obviously, these are great shoes to fill in for either new hooker or another, but Slater says both have considerable pedigree and are up to the task.
“You have two guys who play in this position and have a huge future. You have the New Zealand No.9 and a guy who played for Queensland,” he said.
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“The club are in a good position because of their work ethic and culture – if there’s ever been a perfect time to move on, it’s probably now.
“If you’re going to lose him, you want him to come out of a prime ministerial post. When you win, every player on this team and on this team grows in confidence and now is the perfect time to move on from the most player. influential of the game. “
Despite the pedigree of the two potential heirs, there are some things you can’t replace – but maybe in time they could learn.
“It’s so underrated. When your team gets a little irregular or frustrated, I’ve seen Cameron Smith calm the whole team down and dictate what happens,” Slater said.
“He dictates who he goes, when he’s kicked – you can really control the game from that position, and that just comes from experience.”
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