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NRL Melbourne Storm not stewing over Cameron Smith career call

Melbourne say they aren’t troubled by the possibility Friday’s NRL preliminary final against Canberra may be the last match for their skipper Cameron Smith.

The 37-year-old is still to declare his plans beyond this season and teammate Dale Finucane says it hasn’t been a talking point for the Storm.

If Smith is set on retirement and Melbourne lose, the Suncorp Stadium showdown it will be his 429th and final game after 18 years with the club.

Finucane, who has been out since August with a calf injury and is racing the clock to play, says the team aren’t putting any pressure on their captain to show his hand.

Finucane was surprised by the public criticism of one of the game’s greats and said the team felt Smith had earnt the right to make a call whenever he saw fit.

“It’s not something that’s discussed at all,” Finucane said.

“It’s like any player in any given year, whether they are moving clubs or retiring – it’s a personal decision for the individual and their family and it’s not really our business.”

“With the legacy that Cameron has and the amount of time he’s been involved in the game, he’s earned the right to take his time and do what he likes.”

Finucane said that if the game did turn out to be Smith’s last hurrah, the team would ensure a fitting send-off even if it didn’t involve any grand on-field gestures.

“Regardless of what happens, those sort of things will be done in our own way when the season finishes,” he said.

“If that’s the way he goes, I’m sure the boys would be happy to have those sorts of celebrations off the field.”

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Alex Smith returned to action nearly 2 years after a gruesome injury

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — The ball slipped out of Jared Goff’s right hand trying to spike it after a touchdown. That was about the only time he wasn’t in control.

“It wasn’t great,” he said. “I have the excuse that it was wet.”

Goff threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Los Angeles Rams improved to 4-1 by beating Washington 30-10 on Sunday in Alex Smith’s return almost two years since a gruesome injury put his career in jeopardy.

“It’s incredible what he has overcome,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “You almost wish it were in better conditions. Weird to say when it’s also our defense making things difficult for him. I’m just so impressed with him.”

Smith played his first NFL game 693 days since breaking his right tibia and fibula, entering when new Washington starting quarterback Kyle Allen injured his left arm. Smith was 9 of 17 for 37 yards on the same field he was carted away from on Nov. 18, 2018 before undergoing 17 surgeries to repair the injury.

“Very surreal at first,” Smith said of completing his comeback. “To have it happen as fast as it did was probably almost a blessing. … It was kind of nice in that situation not having to think about it. You just go out and do it.”

Former Washington QB Joe Theismann, who broke his right leg in similar fashion 33 years to the day before Smith was injured, said it was spectacular to see his return, adding, “I’m so thrilled and excited for him.”

The Rams are thrilled with such a strong start in a tough NFC West after missing the playoffs last season. They’ve swept the NFC East and are only a three-point loss on a questionable pass interference call away from being undefeated.

“It’s a great thing for our momentum,” said Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, who had five catches for 66 yards. “Feel great about being 4-1 but by no means does it mean we can be complacent. Making sure we continue to improve and trend upwards.”

Led by Aaron Donald’s four sacks and blanket coverage, the Rams clamped down on defense and ran it up in the rain on offense. Against the team he spent seven seasons with as an assistant, McVay dialed up a lot of play-action early, and unleashed Goff’s long-range passing game that had been largely absent through four games.

“I think we’re just waiting for opportunities,” Goff said. “This one was there, made a throw, made a catch. We’ve always known what our offense is capable down the field, and today we were able to show it.”

Goff led the Rams on a methodical, 10-play, 76-yard opening scoring drive that finished with a 1-yard TD run by Darrell Henderson. He connected with Robert Woods on