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Mentor marvels at Melbourne’s main man

Geva Mentor is no stranger to success. Having guided Lightning to the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) premiership, the Sunshine Coast Captain collected both her Club and league’s Player of the Year gongs. The Goal Keeper rightfully booked her place in the SSN Team of the Year and helped Lightning become the best defensive outfit in the eight-team national competition. Yet for all her achievements in a glittering career spanning sixteen years, Mentor openly admits she in awe of her Melbourne Storm counterpart, Captain, Cameron Smith.

Fresh from guiding the Kangaroos to World Cup glory in Brisbane, the two-times NRL premiership winner regularly delivers incredible feats of mental and skilled endeavour on the rugby league paddock, but just as impressive is his longevity in a sport that is so physically demanding. It takes more than a well-rounded off-field preparation to be the best in the business – consistently performing at a high level throughout a demanding and competitive competition is no mean feat.

The leader of his Club, state and country, Smith is a role model both on and off the field. He has not only become Storm’s all-time leading points scorer and game record holder, but likely a future rugby league immortal. His long and distinguished CV, which includes two Rugby League World Golden Boots, two Dally M Medals and three Wally Lewis Medals for Origin Player of the Series, catapults him into rarefied air as potentially the greatest of all time.

But his triumphs have more to do than simply staying fit. Between the hard work and planning, there is a will to succeed that is almost unrivalled in the code and something Mentor admires.

“Can I just say Cam (Smith) is extraordinary. What he has achieved this year, all the milestones, the way he has gone about it, I am in awe of him and his work ethic. He is not only a legend in his sport, but should be recognised as an Australia icon,” Mentor explained.

“The fact that he talks so highly of his team mates, Storm as a Club and his wife Barb, just proves a happy person creates a happy athlete.

“Some people may see age as a barrier, but I think we have both proven that with ambition and determination, as well as the right environment and support around you, anything is achievable.”

The Lightning leader was a special guest at Storm’s night of nights in Melbourne following the Club’s triumphant NRL season.

“It was an honour to be at their gala awards ceremony, not just because it was celebrating a premiership year, but more so the emotions surrounding Coops (Cooper Cronk) and other players departing and of course, Billy’s (Slater) fantastic news about playing in 2018. It really shows how much the athletes, the staff, the sponsors and the fans care about this Club,” Mentor said.

Storm’s highly-publicised “culture” is revered by sporting Clubs around the country. It is something that can’t be measured by a GPS tracking device or on a scoreboard, but it is undeniable and a lethal weapon in the champion Club’s arsenal.

Lightning was initially established on the foundation of Storm’s culture of high performance, and following the recruitment of the Lightning staff and playing group, the Lightning values of passion, purpose, people and having a point of difference were created.

“The rich history Storm has managed to create in its relatively short NRL history is admirable and something we would love to emulate at Lightning,” Mentor said.

“There are so many synergies between our two teams, not just the obvious elements such as branding or corporate partners, but the fact that we are both big on being a family Club and valuing the people involved. I believe that is our greatest asset and what sets us apart from the rest.

“It really has been a fairy tale for our two Clubs and the people involved. I am so proud of what we accomplished together this year.

“I have relished the opportunity to lead a talented group of people and have embraced the chance to create a legacy and culture that are based on people and success.”

Smith and Mentor continue to defy father time, with the pair in arguably career best form. Look out 2018.

CAPTAINS CREDENTIALS:

Cameron Smith Geva Mentor
Age 34 33
Club Status Premiership-winning Captain Premiership-winning Captain
League’s Best Player Dally M Medal winner SSN Player of the Year
League’s Team of the Year Hooker Goal Keeper
Club’s Best Player Storm’s Player of the Year Lightning’s Player of the Year
International representation Australian Kangaroos © England Roses
2017 International achievement World Cup winner Fast5 World Series winner

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