Rather than confront coach Anthony Griffin, Andrew McCullough opted to let his footy do the talking when speculation linking Test captain Cameron Smith to the Broncos became impossible to ignore.
Smith has since rejected a lucrative Broncos deal and re-signed with Melbourne but McCullough’s attitude has not changed.
Days after Smith announced he would remain at the Storm, McCullough notched 56 tackles and scored the match-winning round two try against North Queensland last Friday night.
Yet McCullough did not have to be told that he would have been on the outer if the Melbourne, Queensland and Test hooker had snapped up a Brisbane deal reportedly worth more than $800,000 a season.
McCullough revealed on Tuesday that speculation about the Broncos’ pursuit of Smith had become a distraction ahead of the 2014 NRL season.
“Obviously you think about those things but I had a contract until 2015, all I could do was train hard,” McCullough said of the Smith rumours.
Brisbane teammate Josh Hoffman had reportedly asked repeatedly for a release upon learning his fullback spot would be in jeopardy due to Bulldogs recruit Ben Barba’s off-season arrival.
Peace talks with Griffin finally ended a three-month drama.
But asked if he was tempted to thrash out the Smith speculation with Griffin, McCullough said: “I didn’t need to.
“I just turned up to the first day of pre-season fit. That’s all I could do. Whatever happened happened.”
Rather than being replaced at Brisbane by Smith, McCullough has shown form that has the likes of Broncos skipper Sam Thaiday tipping the rake to succeed the Queensland and Test hooker on the representative front.
“He is a young player who is only going to get better with age,” Thaiday said of the 24-year-old McCullough.
“I am sure at some stage he will be taking over that No.9 jersey from Cam in the Queensland and Australian sides.”
But McCullough said on Tuesday: “I don’t know about that.
“It’s a nice call but I just want to be consistent this year.”
His goal has been helped by someone the Broncos were able to lure from Melbourne – ex-Storm high performance guru Alex Corvo.
McCullough agreed the Broncos had a “harder edge” this year, ensuring an unbeaten season start thanks to their never say die defence.
“No disrespect to other trainers but he has a few different ideas and the playing group has bought into it – it’s paying off,” he said.
Their biggest test yet comes on Friday night against reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters.