Brandon Smith could be on his way out of Melbourne at the end of next season after the club announced that it would allow him to explore opportunities with rival clubs.
Smith is contracted through the 2021 season, but has been seeking a starting hooker role after being the understudy to Cameron Smith over the last few seasons.
The Storm confirmed that it would allow the 24-year-old look elsewhere in a statement on Monday evening.
“Brandon is a wonderful player and great person to have around the club,” Storm General Manager Football, Frank Ponissi, said.
“Given he is now a premiership player, national representative and has been a valuable asset to our team over the last few years, any move will only be considered with appropriate arrangements put in place.
“The Club has shown we are comfortable with negotiating these requests while also maintaining our performance on the field, given we were in the same position with Josh Addo-Carr only 12 months ago.
“We look forward to having Brandon back on the track on January 4 along with his teammates as they prepare for the 2021 season.”
The Storm statement comes amid reports that the club has shopped the hooker to 14 rivals in a leaked email.
Complicating matters for Smith’s future at the Storm is the impending return of Harry Grant, who starred for the Wests Tigers and in Queensland’s Origin triumph this year.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Smith is currently earning around $425,000 on his Storm deal, but could expect more money on the open market.
Despite his desire to play as a team’s starting hooker, Smith admitted that he would be happy to be Cameron Smith’s understudy after the Storm’s Grand Final win.
“To the captain, I hope he can play on,” he told Nine.
“I know it’s a tough situation for me but I wouldn’t want him carrying me to another couple of rings, I don’t think we should force him out of the game.”