RUGBY LEAGUE: Future rugby league immortal Cameron Smith shocked the sporting world this week when he announced his retirement from representative football out of the blue.

Flanked by Queensland Maroons coach Kevvie Walters, and emotional Smith added his name to a high-profile list including Johnathon Thurston and Cooper Cronk as players who have stepped back to club football only.

He has broken countless records in a representative career that spans 15 years, but with his retirement from that level has left fans asking: what is going to happen to Queensland?

We have dived behind the sports desk to ask this question, and dissect the lasting impact of The Accountant.

MOOSE ELKERTON: Smith is a loss, but this isn't the end of the Maroons

THE loss of Cameron Smith would be detrimental to any side, let alone the Queensland Origin team.

But, as much as it pains me as a loyal Blues supporter, this will be far from the death knell of Maroons dominance.

There is no denying the advantage Smith has given the Maroons since making his debut back in 2003, but for most of the time since there has always been a guy waiting in the wings for a chance.

Three years ago it would have been Jake Friend.

Five years ago it would have been Andrew McCullough.

These guys were at the top of their game, and would have been walk up starts into any Origin side, but for the fact they were behind the greatest dummy-half to lace on a boot.

The toughest thing for Queensland is the timing of Smith's departure.

They have lost Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Smith all in the same year. It is an unprecedented loss of talent in the one go.

But great players have come and gone in the past.

Players like Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga and Darren Lockyer were all players who were once thought to be irreplaceable. Queenslanders all believed it was the end when they retired.

But they all had successors and Smith will be the same.

It will be tough to find a better game manager, and a better captain than The Accountant, but they will be found.

Besides, it's about time NSW had something to cheer about at Origin time.


Cameron Smith waves as Queensland celebrates winning the Origin decider between Queensland and NSW at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Pics Adam Head
Cameron Smith waves as Queensland celebrates winning the Origin decider between Queensland and NSW at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Pics Adam Head Adam Head

JARRARD 'POTTSY' POTTER: There's only one Cameron Smith

WORDS can't describe the impact that Cameron Smith has had on the modern era of representative rugby league.

In the Maroons jumper, he has been the chief architect of much of the NSW Blues misery as he helped lead the team to 11 series wins in his 42 origins.

In the green and gold of the Kangaroos, over 56 tests he has a remarkable 49 wins.

The numbers are staggering but don't go close to encapsulating his influence in the rep teams for which he runs out.

Matches have been turned on a dime from his left boot, whether it's from a goal kick, a 40-20 or a clearing kick from dummy half to get his side out of trouble and shift the pressure back on the opposition.

Let's not forget his work in defence too, stopping big men in heavy traffic for 80 minutes for much of his rep career.

However it's his work off the ball and analytical approach to the game that's second-to-none.

His rep teammates have often lauded his football brain, saying it's like playing with a coach, such is his insight and ability to read a game.

These skills and qualities are developed over time, in the cauldron of some of the toughest rugby league battles in the history of the game, and it's something that Queensland and Australia will sorely miss now that Smith has retired from representative football.

It's hard to see where the next Cameron Smith will come from, because there probably never will be another Cameron Smith, which will make replacing him all the more difficult.