On Tuesday, NRL champion Cameron Smith announced he would be retiring from representative rugby, effective immediately. The decision means he would no longer be playing for the Queensland Maroons in the State of Origin and the Australian National team. Smith will now focus strictly on playing for his club team, the Melbourne Storm.
For the last 15 years the rugby league world has seen Smith dominate in both state and country as he has lifted every possible piece of rugby league silverware above his head, and put countless medals around his neck. He is arguably the most decorated player of any code played in Australia.
Last year was almost a superhuman one for Smith, winning every team trophy possible including Origin, the NRL Premiership and finishing the year captaining the Kangaroos to World Cup glory. He also punctuated the the accolades by winning the Golden Boot Award recognising him as the best rugby league player in the world for 2017.
It’s perhaps not surprising that in his announcement press conference, Smith made mention of the toll last year took on him – physically and mentally – and that few would realise how hard it was to maintain that level of performance for so long. He had weekends when he wasn’t playing for Storm when he was lying on the couch completely exhausted.
Turning 35 years old in June, Smith said that it was the toll that last year took on his body that prompted his decision to retire from representative level. A much loved and admired player and sports personality, Smith’s decision whilst sad will likely be seen as completely understandable.
Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is considering whether Smith should be immortalised with a bronze statue outside Suncorp Stadium to recognise the role model and champion that Smith has become to many.