‘Whispers rife’ on Smith’s Origin return
After a series of unfortunate events for Queensland, momentum is building around the possible State of Origin comeback of Cameron Smith.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters has an almighty headache on his hands with a number of star Queenslanders unavailable either through representative retirement or injury.
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Daly Cherry-Evans (ankle) and Jake Friend (biceps) both suffered injuries over the weekend with the latter ruled out for the entire series. Last year's captain Greg Inglis has already retired from playing.
It leaves the Maroons lacking in the leadership, playmaking and goalkicking departments, and Smith can fill all three.
"The whispers were rife around the game today that Cameron Smith was on the verge of announcing himself for Queensland," NRL 360 host Paul Kent said.
"There's a belief he didn't get the retirement from Origin he deserved because he retired so abruptly last year just before the series began.
"Queensland are in their moment of need … the spine is short one position and that depends whether they pick (Ben) Hunt at halfback or hooker.
"I don't want to say that Cameron is definitely going to play, but there is a little bit of momentum building here and it would not surprise me if Cameron Smith runs out in that first game.
"I ran Isaac Moses today, Cameron's manager, and I asked him about it and it wasn't a flat denial, it was a 'where is this coming from' which I found curious. Second to that he said 'Cameron's at training so I'll call you back after I've spoken to him'. I still haven't heard back from him.
"A month ago it was probably a categoric 'no', now I reckon it's softened a little bit and if the might of Queensland can get behind this, they might get him out again."
Walters was asked on Queenslanders Only on Fox League about the chances of Smith returning to the Origin arena this year.
"No that won't happen," Walters said.
"Those boys have been very clear on where they stand right now and we've got to respect that.
"All these guys moved on at some stage in their Origin careers and it's time for the next generation of Maroons to come through and wear that jersey and make that jersey their own."
Smith was asked earlier this month on NRL 360 about the possibility of an Origin return.
"Whether I speak to him face-to-face or via text, he (Walters) always chucks in a little sneaky question at the end: 'Are you free to play Origin this year?' Smith told the show.
"But I was lucky enough to play 15 really enjoyable years of Origin and my time's finished.
"I'll let the younger guys take that spot now."