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Auto Poster No surprises here: Cameron Smith's rep footy retirement is impeccably timed

Discussion in 'News' started by Stuff News Articles, May 15, 2018.

  1. Stuff News Articles

    Stuff News Articles Auto Poster

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    No surprises here: Cameron Smith's rep footy retirement is impeccably timed


    ROY MASTERS

    Last updated 19:36, May 15 2018

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    Queensland coach Kevin Walters, left, and Cameron Smith confirm his surprise rep retirement on Tuesday.


    OPINION: Finally, his body told him what no coach or opponent could. Cameron Smith woke on Sunday morning, following a gruelling game against the Titans, aware that he could no longer play representative and club football in the same season.

    For the first time in 14 years, Smith, the Melbourne Storm captain, realised he could not back up after an Origin match to play for his club. It was something from which he had always derived immense pride: playing for his state and then running out a few days later as leader of the Storm.

    Later that day, he informed Queensland coach Kevin Walters, who flew to Melbourne on Tuesday to attend the announcement of Smith's farewell to representative football. Smith had earlier flagged the possibility with his club coach, Craig Bellamy.

    Bellamy had often promised himself to rest Smith from club games in order to preserve his captain's body for the end of season games but could never bring himself to do so. He knew it would mean having a confrontation with his highly competitive on field leader. Smith even resents being called from the field when the result of game is assured.

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    However, last year's hectic State of Origin series, where Queensland lost the first game, won the second in the final five minutes and trounced the Blues in the decider, tired Smith. No previous series had sapped so much energy from him.

    Then followed a Storm premiership and a World Cup campaign where Smith led Australia to a close victory over England. The decision to retire from representative football will guarantee Smith plays another season with the Storm.

    Should he continue into 2020, he will pass the 400 NRL game mark. He currently sits on 368 games, more than anyone in the code's history of first grade games.

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    Fan favourite Cameron Smith will continue to play for reigning NRL champions the Melbourne Storm.


    He can no longer eclipse Darren Lockyer's record of 59 tests for Australia, with his tally of 56 being three short. However, his record of 42 State of Origin matches is unlikely ever to be surpassed.

    Cowboys captain, Johnathan Thurston, has played 37 games for the Maroons and has already retired from representative football. Smith has, therefore, set records that are almost priestly, even religious in the awe they generate.

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    After all, he is aged 34, plays in the middle of the ruck, kicks both tactically and for goals, communicates with the referee during games and fronts the media at press conferences after games. Against the Titans, he played first receiver when the Storm's No 7, Ryley Jacks, was injured.

    Add to this his role as president of the RLPA and spokesman for sponsors. But above all this, Smith is husband and father. He even dons Aussie Rules garb to act as umpire at his son's AusKick matches in Melbourne.

    Smith's legacy in rugby league is assured. Should he retire from playing at the end of the 2020 season, he will be eligible for the Hall of Fame after the statutory five years, in 2025.

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    Captain Cameron Smith and team-mates celebrate Australia's 34-2 win over New Zealand in the 2013 World Cup final.


    Immortals are now chosen on a four yearly basis. An induction will take place in August this year, then another in 2022 and again in 2026. Should Smith retire with 400 games at the end of 2020 and be inevitably elected to the Hall in 2025, he would only have to wait one year to be elected an Immortal. If so, his timing, bar the occasional miss tackle, would once again, be impeccable.

    - SMH

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