Smith the greatest of his generation
Did you ever imagine we would see a player usurp the records Darren Lockyer holds in this game? I didn't. When he retired back in 2011 I thought his records would stick around for a while – those kind of durable freaks don't come along every era. Certainly, to see two or possibly three within the space of a decade is too much to ask.
I didn't think another player would get close to his 59 Tests for Australia – it looks as though Cameron Smith will do that. He played his 50th game in Canberra earlier this year and if Australia make it to the final of the World Cup in November, and Smith plays all games, he will finish the year on 56.
He's also the most capped Queenslander and State of Origin player in history, now has the most wins in premiership history with 250 (keep in mind he has now played 354 NRL games, making his win percentage an incredible 70.6 per cent) and on Saturday night against the Raiders he will match Lockyer's record for most NRL games ever played.
He'll be younger than Lockyer was when he reached those magic triple digits too, by a cool two months. I know there will be a lot said about Smith this week, and every week (deservedly so for the most part) but I can't help but think how lucky we are to be watching history unfold before our eyes.
Let me trot out a tired cliché for you – we will be telling our grandchildren that we saw the greatest player of our generation and I will be lucky enough to say I have reported on his career. He is always kind, open and polite to deal with and never makes people feel as though they're less than him. For an Australian sports star of his magnitude, that's a tough thing to do. He is and always will be remembered as one of the greats of our game and although his career could just as easily cruise on for another couple of years, I have a feeling next season will be his last.
Speaking of last, there are plenty of players who will run out for their finals games in their current colours this weekend – Aaron Woods, James Tedesco, Josh Reynolds, Sam Kasiano and Dane Gagai to name a few. Round 26 is always an emotional time for the teams who have not made the finals, and whether clubs are saying goodbye to team-mates, coaches or their hopes for the season it's hard not to reflect on where things have gone wrong and right and how to move forward. As we say, there's always next year.
There's a lot to look forward to in 2018, but until then we have one hell of a Round 26, an unpredictable finals series and what I expect to be the best World Cup we've seen in a long time to enjoy. How lucky are we?