‘‘I was fortunate to have my time at that level. Now it’s time for the younger Queenslanders to take that jersey and represent our great state and do what they do best – create a bit of history for themselves and their own story.’’
Smith had been adamant last month that he wouldn’t be returning at age 35 and the most-capped player in the game’s history confessed to being puzzled about heightened speculation in recent days that he was set for a comeback.
‘‘I’m not too sure how this has got any momentum at all to be fair,’’ Smith said. ‘‘It’s just come out of nowhere. I’ve got no intention at all to be available for Origin. I’m finished in that space of my career. I really enjoyed my time there. Unfortunately things come to an end.’’
Earlier on Thursday, Smith’s club coach Craig Bellamy said he wouldn’t stand in the way of the in-form Melbourne captain answering an SOS call from Queensland coach Kevin Walters.
In the past two years, the Maroons have also lost fellow greats Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and last year’s captain Greg Inglis to retirement, plus Valentine Holmes to the NFL.
‘‘If Cameron wanted to play Origin again, he’d do so with my blessing and I imagine the club would feel the same,’’ Bellamy said.
‘‘With what he’s done for our club and the game in general if that’s what he wanted to do, Iwouldn’t stand in his way.’’
Alas, any fairytale return is off.
Smith sits among the leaders for the Dally M award after seven rounds and remains one of the best hookers in the game.
‘‘I haven’t spoken to Cameron about it but it has been a topic among some of the shows,’’ Bellamy said. ‘‘I think he is playing well enough to play Origin, no doubt, he has been up in our top three or four players for nearly every week.
‘‘I’m not quite sure that he would really want to go back and play after making that break last year and I’m not going to approach him about it.
‘‘If he is thinking about it, then I’m sure he will come and tell me, but having said that I can’t see him doing it. But strange things happen.
‘‘If I was Kevvie [Walters] I would be very keen for him to play.’’
Bellamy added Smith’s injury was much better for the club’s eight-day break between Anzac Day and Friday night’s clash with Cronulla so he would likely kick.
‘‘I think he would probably be kicking again this week,’’ Bellamy said. ‘‘He has done a bit of training, not as much as he does usually, but I think he will be kicking.’’
AAP with Roy Ward