AUSTRALIAN and Queensland captain Cameron Smith has announced his retirement from representative rugby league, effective immediately.
Queensland were already missing Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, who hung up their rep boots last year, and coach Kevin Walters said he would be relying on his remaining senior players to help steer his young Maroons through this year's series.
Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough appears Smith's likely replacement at hooker while the kicking stocks look a little bare, perhaps forcing Cameron Munster or Josh McGuire to do the goal kicking for the Maroons.
Smith's exit follows with the representative retirements of fellow Australian and Queensland greats Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, which were announced previous year.
Smith, 34, is the most-capped State of Origin player in history, as well as the most successful racking up 11 series wins with the dominant Queensland side.
He also paid tribute to his wife Barbara and his children.
Smith thanked his Storm coach Craig Bellamy for his support during his representative career, as well as his former Maroons mentors Mal Meninga and Wayne Bennett.
"It's been an absolutely enjoyable experience that I've had getting the opportunity to play for Queensland and to play for Australia".
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"I thought his performance in Game 3 of previous year was one of the best I have seen from anyone at that level, and at 34 that speaks volumes", Walters said.
Since debuting in 2003, he's played 42 Origin games, winning 26 of them.
Smith's retirement from representative rugby league leaves a big void for Queensland selectors at hooker and in the team leadership with the Origin series starting June 6.
Darius Boyd, Billy Slater or Greg Inglis are the most likely candidates to take over the captaincy, however Boyd has battled form and fitness at Brisbane this season. Champion of the game.
Smith stands head to head with the giants of State of Origin, notching up seven man of the match awards for Queensland.
The underlying theme of Smith's entire career is he is a victor.
Regardless, Smith will depart the representative arena as one of the most prolific players at the game's highest level.
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