Trent Barrett has smacked down a report claiming Canterbury have secretly signed Melbourne hooker Brandon Smith on a three-year-deal.
On Thursday the Bulldogs coach said he was surprised to read reports linking the Kiwi international to the club after the claim was aired on SEN radio by former NRL star Scott Sattler.
Smith has been given the all-clear from the Storm to look into his options to nab a starting No.9 position at a rival NRL club from next season, a year out from the end of his contract with the club.
And on Wednesday, Sattler said he had heard from a good source that the Bulldogs had landed one of the biggest fish available on the NRL market.
However, Barrett wasted little words in setting the record straight when asked if Smith was coming to the club.
“No, he’s not. I was a bit surprised by that one. We haven’t spoken to Brandon Smith,” Barrett said.
When asked if he would be interested in the 24-year-old, Barrett said: “I don’t think he’s off contract.
“As it is we’ve got our two young hookers here with (Jeremy) Marshall King and Sione (Katoa) and our main focus this week is that they both play well and we need them to.”
Smith is contracted to Melbourne until the end of 2022 but the club have confirmed they would be willing to let him go at the end of the season if they could secure a player of similar quality in a swap deal.
Several clubs are interested in the premiership winner, including Wests Tigers, Gold Coast, Warriors and Brisbane.
It comes as Smith prepares to play his third game of the season as the Storm’s starting hooker with Dally M rookie of the year Harry Grant sidelined with a knee injury.
Grant was due to return for their round-four game against Brisbane but his recovery is taking longer than expected, giving Smith at least two more games to impress at dummy half.
Meanwhile, Barrett said it’s a difficult balance to strike between praise and protest with his young side as they look for their first win of the season against Brisbane on Saturday.
“There’s a fine line because we are young and our spine and a lot of these guys are new to the club too,” he said.
“While we need to point out and hold everyone accountable to where we’re going wrong we still need to keep it positive and make sure we’re ramming home the things they are doing well.
“Because, there are some positives in the game, but not for long enough periods.”