SUCH was Cameron Smith's dominance of this year's Toyota NRL Dream Team competition, not even his being stood down just minutes before Melbourne's final match of the regular season could deny him the title as the 2011 fantasy game's top player.
While it might not quite have the same prestige as the Dally M or the RLPA Players' Player medal, Smith welcomed the news that his real match stats, which the fantasy game is based on, ensured he finished as Dream Team's Dream Player.
Smith, who compiled a grand total of 1392 Dream Team points, withstood a serious late challenge from Parramatta's warhorse Nathan Hindmarsh, whose commitment to the club in a disastrous season was well illustrated by his score of 1354 points and a staggering 1198 tackles.
''It's good to have that mantle as the Dream Team player of the year, it's a nice little accolade,'' Smith said.
Now the Dream Team season is over, Smith joked that he would enjoy some respite from the late-night frantic telephone calls from his mates who would plead for him to deliver big points to help their fantasy league campaign.
''I get people ringing all the time saying, 'You need to have a big game because I've made you captain this week','' he said.
''[Dream Team] is a great concept that allows people to really get into rugby league. I don't look at it all that often to see my points, but from what I understand, it's a good, fun thing.''
Smith, who finished the season ahead of Hindmarsh, Brisbane's Corey Parker, Canberra's Shaun Fensom and Manly's boom boy Daly Cherry-Evans, attributed his role as hooker for allowing him to ultimately reign supreme.
''I think I'm fairly lucky being in the position I am because I handle the ball a lot. I'd dare say that would probably allow me to pick up a lot more points than other blokes,'' he said.
The Storm were defeated 40-8 by the Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday night after coach Craig Bellamy decided to rest Smith and fullback Billy Slater 20 minutes before the team started its warm-up.
It's believed Bellamy made his choice to stand down his stars after the Storm wrapped up the minor premiership when second-placed Manly lost what will be remembered as captain Darren Lockyer's farewell to Brisbane.
''I had my boots, I had my mouthguard and I was just about to get strapped, as was Billy and [forward] Bryan Norrie,'' Smith said. ''It was a bit of a shock. We came out on the field and the guys were warming up and there was a bit of a feeling that we still wanted to play.
''The three of us wanted to be out there - there's no doubt about that.
''[Bellamy] made it quite clear to us he'd done some research on why the reasons were to have a rest, and he was quite convincing. You don't argue with Craig Bellamy too much.''