Maroons star Cameron Smith quits weeks before Origin opener

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Cameron Smith has retired from representative rugby league, finishing a career that included 11 wins in the last 12 State of Origin series for Queensland and leading Australia to two World Cup titles.

The 34-year-old Smith announced the decision Tuesday, three weeks out from the start of the annual interstate Origin series against New South Wales.

Smith made his debut for Queensland in 2003 and played 42 Origin matches, winning 26 — both records in the series which is one of the most storied contests in the sport.

A playmaking hooker and goalkicker, Smith took over as Queensland and Australia captain in 2012 and was voted the Rugby League International Federation's player of the year. He played 56 tests for Australia, including wins in the 2013 and 2017 World Cup.

"Last year, more than any other year, the Origin series in particular had an effect on me both physically and mentally," Smith told a news conference. "I couldn't quite back up after any of those Origin matches and maybe that was a sign there that it was time."

Australia's captain Cameron Smith, bottom center, celebrates with teammates after their 34-2 win over New Zealand in their World Cup Final International Rugby League. Photo/AP
Australia's captain Cameron Smith, bottom center, celebrates with teammates after their 34-2 win over New Zealand in their World Cup Final International Rugby League. Photo/AP

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.

His departure follows Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk's retirements last year from the representative level. Smith will continue to play at the club level for the Melbourne Storm in Australia's National Rugby League. Smith has won two NRL premierships with the Storm.

Queensland coach Kevin Walters said it would there was no replacement who could fill all of Smith's roles.

"I thought his performance in Game 3 of last year was one of the best I have seen from anyone at that level, and at 34 that speaks volumes," Walters said.

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