Melbourne NRL star Brandon Smith has had his head turned by the Sydney Roosters, admitting he looked at their famous jumper during a meeting and thought: "I want to win a premiership in that jersey".
A free agent for 2023, Smith says he's made a decision on his NRL future but will meet with Storm coach Craig Bellamy before making it public.
I've made up my mind," Smith told YKTR Sports podcast.
"I've still got a meeting with the Storm and Craig (Bellamy) is pretty persuading as well."
He said he was blown away by the Roosters powerbrokers, coach Trent Robinson and club games record-holder Mitch Aubusson.
The 25-year-old has been courted by newcomers The Dolphins, Gold Coast and said that Penrith, Wests Tigers and Parramatta had also shown interest.
But he was particularly taken by the Roosters after being invited to Robinson's house and making pizza with his French wife and family.
"The thing that really gets me is his love for culture - like, Aboriginal culture, Maori culture, Samoan culture, Tongan culture.
"He can talk about it. He knows so much stuff about it. Reads books on all those things. And that to me is special because obviously I am a proud Maori man ... for him to be like that is awesome.
"He pretty much persuaded me with his words."
Smith played golf with Kiwi Test teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and former Rooster stars Aubusson and Jake Friend and lunched with heavy-hitter Mark Bouris.
"Mitchy Aubo almost made me cry," Smith said.
"How he spoke about the club and what they've done for him and the history of why they wear that jersey and why we play the way we do.
"Back in the '20s, Bondi wasn't what we see today. That's what he was talking about. It pretty much wanted to make you cry.
"I was just looking at the Roosters jersey as he was saying it and I had goosebumps. I was looking at it going, 'I want to win a premiership in that jersey'."
He said he felt the Roosters were well positioned to set players up for life post-NRL.
"They want you to be set for life - they don't want you to walk away with nothing from rugby league.
"They just pushed that. They can tell you how they are going to help you with life ... it was just mind blowing."
Australian Associated Press