Calculating Cam as clever as ever

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Smith embraces Cooper Cronk. Image: Dan Peled.

We’re a measly three weeks away from the most anticipated event of the NRL calendar – Origin 1, and reigning champs Queensland will have to face NSW without captain Cameron Smith.

Days after Smith was charged for his ‘wishbone’ tackle on Kevin Proctor, the Australian skipper has called time on his representative career, effective immediately.

The 34-year-old made the official announcement at a media conference in Melbourne this afternoon, saying it was the “right time” to step away.

“It’s been a fairly lengthy process for me to come to this decision,” he said.

“I probably started having small thoughts about finishing up my representative career last year.”

“The origin series in particular had an effect on me both physically and mentally out of any year I played,” he said.

Smith is often regarded as the NRL’s ‘smartest’ player, known for his ability to overcome more physically dominant players and teams by out thinking them on and off the field.

Make no mistake, Smith’s representative retirement is a by-product of this cleverness.

Having witnessed the unfortunate decline of representative team mates Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston throughout season 2018, Smith has moved swiftly to protect his legacy and ensure the same fate does not await him.

And what a legacy it shall be.

Since debuting for the Maroons in 2003 Smith has clocked up a ridiculous 42 Origin caps, missing only one game during that lengthy period, the 2010 series opener, due to injury.

Smith also captained Australia to two World Cup victories – 2013 and 2017, making him arguably Australia’s most decorated representative player.

Brisbane’s Andrew McCullough will be the most likely replacement at hooker, with Jake Friend well past his prime.

I have no personal knowledge of McCullough’s anatomical makeup, but even the most accomplished player would be made to feel fairly small the minute they lace up Cam’s boots.

 

 

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