The Queensland Maroons are without a captain after Cameron Smith today announced his immediate retirement from representative rugby league.
The star play-maker confirmed the shock news at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
“I just feel that the time is right after 15 years of representative footy,” Smith said.
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“Such a long period at that level does take its toll and this decision will allow me to spend more time with my family and will help me focus on the final stages of my club football with Melbourne”
Smith said that he’s “cherished every opportunity” that he’s been fortunate enough to get in Queensland and Australian colours.
“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 amazing,” he said.
The immediate retirement means that Smith, fittingly, finished his representative career alongside longtime teammates Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.
The Melbourne Storm captain is widely lauded as the best no.9 to have played the game and his records reflects this.
Since debuting in 2003, he’s played 42 Origin games, winning 26 of them.
He’s represented his country 56 times, captaining the side to World Cup wins in 2013 and 2017.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters said the focus right now should be on celebrating Smith’s glittering representative career.
“Over the past few years, he’s been at the peak of his powers, which is amazing when you consider the demands of Origin,” Walters said.
“He’s met all of those challenges quite brilliantly as a player and leader.
“In my two years as Head Coach, he’s been invaluable from every angle, from leadership and stability to game plans; he’s been as good as anyone that’s been involved.”
It’s understood Walters will liaise with fellow selectors in coming days about the next Queensland hooker and captain.
Cameron Smith has just ended the best ever career in maroon, green and gold. Only Lockyer would come close. Champion of the game.
— Chris Garry (@ChrisGarry7) May 15, 2018