The Melbourne Storm are set for a new halfback. He’s 36 and played 414 NRL games

Cameron Smith, the greatest hooker of all time, is set to make a shock switch to halfback at the Storm that would rank among the greatest positional gambles in rugby league history.

The Sydney Morning Herald broke the story late on Tuesday night, revealing that the former Queensland Origin and Australian Kangaroos captain discussed the possible move at a meeting with the Storm hierachy — which included coach Craig Bellamy — last week.

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Cameron Smith already plays like a pseudo halfback.

Cameron Smith already plays like a pseudo halfback.Source: AAP

The Storm have struggled to settle on a regular halfback since Cooper Cronk left the club to join the Roosters two years ago, with Brodie Croft failing to nail down the role last season.

Croft played the majority of the campaign but was replaced in the No.7 jersey by fullback Jahrome Hughes for the finals series, with Ryan Papenhuyzen taking over the custodian role.

Smith has revolutionised the way the game is played out of dummyhalf but he’s also, at times, collected the ball at first receiver in directing the Storm attack.

Under the planned proposal, Smith would partner Cameron Munster in the halves, Brandon Smith would become the new fulltime hooker and Papenhuyzen would remain at fullback.

Smith future up to Bellamy

Smith future up to Bellamy

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Hughes would shift to the centres to cover for the expected departure of Curtis Scott to Canberra, which would also serve to relieve some salary cap pressures on the Storm.

The Herald says a final decision hasn’t been made on whether to go ahead with the plan, however all the parties are open to reconfiguring the Storm spine.

But it’s another clear sign that Croft is at long odds to regain his No.7 jersey. He had been in talks with Broncos coach Anthony Seibold to kickstart his career up north but those talks are reported to have broken down.

The 36-year-old Smith had only recently confirmed that he planned to play on again in 2020 for what would be a 19th NRL season after admitting he was considering his future after the Storm’s season ended in a preliminary final loss to the Roosters earlier this year.

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“I haven’t spoken to Craig officially about next year; we’ve had some discussions about the way I’ve pulled up from the season just gone and where I’m at, at the moment, with my thoughts on next year,” Smith told AAP last week.

“I must say I feel a lot better than I did a week or two weeks after we finished up. It takes a little bit to get over that disappointment, I guess more so now being older and knowing that the chances are running out.

“But I feel a lot better now about playing on next year and this will be a good chance to see what his thoughts are.”

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A shift into from hooker to halfback could have a number of benefits for Smith and the Storm. Smith made 1,059 tackles last season at an average of 39 per match, a load that would drop dramatically if he is no longer defending in the middle of the field.

It could even prolong Smith’s career and tempt him to play on in 2021, giving him the chance to increase his games appearance record to a mark that will never be challenged.

The move would also allow provide an opportunity for Brandon Smith to become more involved while still learning from the game’s best hooker, assisting the transition to when Smith eventually retires.

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