Australian and Queensland captain, Cameron Smith, has today retired from representative football, effective immediately. The incumbent number nine dropped a bombshell on the Rugby League world today with a shock decision to close the door on his time as a Queensland Maroon and Australian Kangaroo.
Smith thanked Wayne Bennett and Ricky Stuart for handing him his first Queenland and Australian jumpers, respectively. Citing the reason for his retirement as the impact State of Origin has on his body, stating that he felt the 2017 State of Origin series had the biggest effect on him of any series he had played in to date, noting he was unable to back-up those Origin appearances with the Melbourne Storm.
Retiring for a better quality of life
The Storm captain also said while not backing up for Melbourne after Origin, the effect didn't stop with football, stating the impact of Origin on his body rendered him too exhausted to engage with his children. Smith noted that his retirement from representative football could open the door for him to play on longer at club level with the Melbourne Storm, with whom he's already notched up over 360 NRL games.
Today marks the end of a glistening representative career, Smith amassed 42 State of Origin games and 21 as captain. Smith also achieved 56 tests for Australia, second highest of all time.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters mentioned he had an inkling that Smith's representative career was coming to an end at the beginning of the year. Walters had nothing but praise for Smith's career and contributions to the Queensland outfit, although stating it was a huge blow to the Queensland side, with Origin less than a month away.
A future in mentoring
Smith stated there hadn't been discussions in relation to him taking on a mentoring role with the Queensland side, however Smith said it is definitely something he would be open to. Walters noted it was going to be extremely difficult to select the next Queenland captain, but mentioned that the likes of Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Matt Scott are all in the running to take over the captaincy of the Maroons side.
Although Walters stated he hasn't made a decision as to who will fill the void left by Smith's absence, it sure to be a major point of discussion heading into the teams being named. Potential Queensland hookers could include Andrew McCullough and Jake Friend, or, as a dark horse option and despite being the form half of the competition, Waters could move Ben Hunt into hooker where he excelled at the back end of 2017, and use the likes of Cameron Munster and Michael Morgan in the halves.
No matter the option Walters opts to go with, it's going to be undoubtedly hard to replace someone of the calibre of Cameron Smith, after what has been a representative career of brilliance, success and humility.
What are your best memories of Cameron Smith in a Maroons or Kangaroos jersey? Let us know in the comments below.