Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Maroons star Cameron Smith quits weeks before Origin opener

Queensland coach Kevin Walters paid glowing tribute to Smith saying the Maroons would not be able to replace him with anyone similar Queensland coach Kevin Walters paid glowing tribute to Smith saying the Maroons would not be able to replace him with anyone similar
Frederick Owens | 16 May, 2018, 02:42

Australia and Queensland skipper Cameron Smith called time on his representative career on Tuesday just weeks away from the State of Origin series opener.

The 34-year-old officially announced his representative retirement at a media conference in Melbourne this afternoon.

"As a kid growing up in Queensland, it was always a dream of mine to play for the Maroons, and to be able to achieve that and play alongside so many great players and work with passionate coaches like Mal and Kevvie has been wonderful", he said.

Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk are now all retired, although Walters confirmed on Tuesday he expected to select Billy Slater at fullback for game one, making him a potential captain.

He also paid tribute to his wife Barbara and his children.

Despite being well below their best this NRL season, Darius Boyd and Matt Scott are set to receive a Maroons call-up because of the leadership vacuum left by Smith's sudden exit.

"It's been an absolutely enjoyable experience that I've had getting the opportunity to play for Queensland and to play for Australia".

"I thought his performance in Game III of a year ago was one of the best I have seen from anyone at that level and at age 34 that speaks volumes", he said.

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"We've still got a couple of guys there who have played a lot of Origin football", Walters told AAP.

His 26 wins as an Origin player is the most of any player to don either Queensland or New South Wales guernseys.

Smith's rep exit comes with all three Queensland-based NRL sides languishing in the bottom half of the ladder.

EARLIER: AUSTRALIAN and Queensland captain Cameron Smith is set to drop a representative rugby league bombshell by announcing he is finished playing for the Maroons and Australia, effective immediately.

"Leaves a great legacy for the QLD Maroons and Kangaroos".

The champion No.9 will be celebrated as one of the greatest big-match players the game has seen and the greatest hooker of all time. Smith counts seven Origin man-of-the-match awards to his name, with only Wally Lewis (8) earning more across a career.

Has touched the ball nearly 2200 times more than any other player at Origin level.

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