NRL champions Melbourne will begin pre-season training without veteran skipper Cameron Smith for the first time in 19 seasons on Monday.
Coach Craig Bellamy and the Storm players - minus their State of Origin representatives - are due at AAMI Park headquarters to start preparations for their premiership defence.
With Smith out of contract as of November 1, a Melbourne spokesperson said they weren't expecting him to show.
Bizarrely, Smith hasn't spoken to the club about his future so they can only assume he is no longer a Storm player.
The 37-year-old relocated to Queensland in May with his family for the 2020 NRL season due to COVID-19 and has reportedly bought a house in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Apart from a CBD book signing in early December, he has made no official appearance back in Melbourne.
He did not make any contact with the Storm on that flying visit and then bad weather before Christmas in Queensland forced club chairman Matt Tripp to indefinitely postpone a trip north to meet with the NRL great.
Chief executive Dave Donaghy has already departed Melbourne and moved north, although he is yet to be announced as Brisbane's new boss.
Storm part owner and director Gerry Ryan said in December he believed Smith had played his last game for the club and would retire.
Ryan said they wanted to keep Smith involved in the club in an advisory capacity although he had been made a similar offer from Brisbane.
He also thinks the two Queensland AFL clubs will chase Smith to work in a leadership role.
The club also want to hammer out the future of Bellamy, who stayed on in Queensland after the grand-final triumph.
Bellamy has a coaching director offer from Brisbane for 2022, with his Melbourne contract ending in 2021.
Australian Associated Press