Tuesday the 15th of May 2018 will be remembered as the day Cam Smith called time on his representative career. In a press conference that came out of nowhere, Smith along with QLD coach Kevin Walters cited many reasons for the decision. Namely the struggles Smith had backing up for his club post origin in 2017.
At age 34 Cameron Smith has won almost every accolade on offer. His long list of achievements include 42 Origins for QLD (leading them through the most successful run of wins in Origin history) and 56 tests for the Kangaroos. It was the career that just kept going on and on.
QLD Origin Side
With Thurston finishing up after game 2 last year, it was thought QLD might stagger the end of the career of Cooper Cronk and Cam Smith to usher in the new generation. But earlier in the year Cronk called it quits. And now Smith.
The most successful trio in Origin history (yes Lockyer was a part of it stop screaming at the screen) is all gone in one fowl swoop. The last example of this to come to mind is when Warne, McGrath and Langer all called it quits on their test careers in 2007. Some would say Australian cricket is still recovering from the last era.
The New QLD No.9
No one will be able to fill the shoes of Cam Smith but QLD need a new custodian. The three most likely contenders are Jake Friend, Andrew McCullough and Jake Granville. All bring different attributes to the table.
Friend is hard nosed and has been around Origin as QLD’s longstanding back up to Smith. He has the edge to step up. Granville, a premiership player with a great running game, could add something for QLD late at the back end of both halves.
However, of the three, McCullough is the most no-nonsense. And with an almost brand new spine, Walters will probably go with a very basic game plan. And McCullough fits the bill.
The New Kicker
Not only have QLD lost a No. 9, they have also lost a kicker. With points so vital at Origin, a good goal kicker almost picks themself. Problem is there is no obvious option.
It boosts the claims of Cherry-Evans for an Origin return. Or the young bolter Kaylan Ponga could get a start. Another option is Valentine Holmes. The flow on effect of the seemingly small decision of picking a goal kicker could be huge for QLD.
The New Captain
Question is, does Walters go with a captain for now or a captain for the future? If he picks from his crop of veterans, Inglis and Scott are the obvious choices. If Walters can find room for Boyd in the side, he would come into contention also.
All captains of their club, of the three perhaps Inglis is the man. If Walters can eek out two more years out of Inglis it would give him time to shape a new captain. Needing a game manager and the fact he has an almost new look spine, Walters might join the job of pivot and captain and therefore whoever is in the No. 7 could captain the maroons. Morgan is next in line at the Cowboys and the job wouldn’t be lost on Ben Hunt.
Whatever happens at camp Maroon, both they and NSW will be fielding halves combinations and spines of little experience. This decision by Cam Smith has actually pumped a bit of life into a 2018 series that might (like the last decade) have become a foregone conclusion.
Cam Smith the GOAT
For Cameron Smith, it means he can sink his energy into helping the Storm go back to back. They have the side, structure and discipline to be the first side to do that since the Broncos of the 90’s.
The debate of the greatest ever can be put on hold until Smith retires from all forms of the game. For now we should take a moment to remember the greatest Hooker QLD and he Kangaroos have ever had in their ranks.