Cameron Smith is the unsung hero of Leeds Rhinos stunning Grand Final run, having learned from the great players around him in previous years.
That’s the view of Adam Cuthbertson who won Grand Finals with Leeds in 2015 and 2017. He is now player-coach under the Rhinos’ legendary former coach Brian McDermott at Championship side Featherstone.
Still only 23, Smith made his Leeds debut as a 17-year old in 2016. This season he has been an unflinching presence both in the pack and halves.
“Cam Smith has been a brilliant player for Leeds,” Cuthbertson told Love Rugby League. “He has slowly progressed through the ranks.
“I had conversations with Cam in my time at Leeds especially around 2020 when I got picked to play in the Challenge Cup final ahead of him. He probably wouldn’t have known at the time but moments like that can either push you forward and make you a million times more hungry or you can kick stones for the rest of your career and always moan about the ones you missed out on.
“I think Cam’s taken the bull by the horns with his game. He has stayed true to himself and more importantly, the players have backed him as has Rohan Smith.”
Cameron Smith absorbed the best of the golden generation
Speaking on the latest Love Rugby League Podcast, Cuthbertson explains how the bets players are often those who learn the most from tough setbacks early in in careers. Although being surrounded by greatness from a young age helps too.
“As well as learning from disappointments, he has seen the end of myself, Wardy (Stevie Ward), (Kevin) Sinfield, (Rob) Burrow, (Danny) McGuire, (Kylie) Leuluai, as a really young kid,” Cuthbertson said.
“He absorbed a lot of that and has taken it with him on his journey. He is a smart player and will be a good coach one day. So there are still leaders in that group from that era, who know how it is done, without necessarily experiencing it.
“It may not be the names of superstars but they have picked up a heck of a lot of know how and knowledge in that time.”