Queensland captain Cameron Smith is set to throw Origin preparations into chaos, with the 34-year-old to announce his immediate retirement from representative football this afternoon.
Fox Sports reports that Smith, along with Queensland coach Kevin Walters, will hold a press conference in Melbourne at 1pm this afternoon, where Smith will confirm he is walking away from Maroons and Kangaroos football effective immediately.
Smith, the most-capped Maroon of all time, leaves a giant void in the Maroons side at hooker; a position he’s had locked down in the Queensland side since 2003. Smith counts seven Origin man-of-the-match awards to his name, with only Wally Lewis (8) earning more across a career. His 26 wins as an Origin player is the most of any player to don either Queensland or New South Wales guernseys.
Smith’s record as an Australian representative is just as formidable, captaining the Kangaroos to the 2013 and 2017 World Cups, and the 2016 Four Nations title.
As a stalwart of the Maroons, Smith oversaw the greatest period of dominance ever seen in the series, with Queensland winning 11 out of the past 12 series.
With this year’s Origin series looming large, the Maroons side suddenly has a good news/bad news situation on their hands. The bad news being that this is the first time since 2003 a Maroons side will be without Cameron Smith. The good news, however, being that sending off one of, if not the, greatest ever Maroons players should provide ample motivation as the Queenslanders push into a new era.
State of Origin 1 is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, June 6th in front of well over 90,000 people at the MCG in Melbourne.