I should first declare that I am a passionate Queenslander before you read this!!
Queensland must move heaven and earth to convince Cameron Smith to lead the Maroons one last time. These are very strange times we are living in and the NRL season will eventually resume whether it be May 28 or not.
The Origin series is the game's blue chip product and will form part of whatever revised schedule is agreed upon. Peeling back everything that has happened and focusing purely on the contest (what a pleasure), QLD have lost the last two series and need to halt the Blues momentum. This is where Smith comes in.
The Maroons are extremely talented and were desperately close last year. Origin rookies in Kalyn Ponga and David Fafita are the future and Michael Morgan, Cameron Munster and Daley Cherry Evans are now experienced at this level. Smith can teach them how to win on the field; remember back to Cooper Cronk in the 2018 Grand Final. In last year's series, NSW inexplicably left James Maloney out of the game and paid the price. He was rushed back and led the Blues to a dominant win in game two which then allowed them to clinch back to back victories in game 3.
The value of elite experienced playmakers like Cronk and Maloney is not in how they play but in how they lead. Their unique ability to be able to look down on a game from above like a chess master allows them to empower their teammates and simplify game plans in the most extreme situations. Smith does this better than anyone - possibly the best we have ever seen - and he is still playing. Yes he retired from representative football 3 years ago but things are different now. The world, including the rugby league world, is nothing like it once was. Queensland is staring down the barrel of losing 3 years in a row after dominating for over a decade. New South Wales have been able to build a new look squad and teach them how to win without being scarred by defeat like their predecessors.
In sport, nothing breeds confidence more than winning; just as nothing delivers doubt like defeat. Maloney is a winner and injected belief to resurrect them, but he is gone now. Smith is the most successful leader in Maroons Origin history. Just like when Wally Lewis and Darren Lockyer retired, he has left a hole that is impossible to fill. There is one big difference though between Smith and Lewis and Lockyer. Smith is still playing. Imagine if you could say to a young Queensland Origin player that you were going to play with Wally or Locky. Well they can still play with Cameron and he can leave one last legacy - teaching the current squad how to win. He may be past his best as a player; however, he will never be better as a leader and a playmaker - something the Blues don't have and Queensland won’t for much longer.
The world has changed, maybe Cameron Smith will change his mind if we ask him.