Smith's rep retirement: What it means
Cameron Smith's sudden retirement from representative football has sent shockwaves through rugby league.
It will have massive ramifications on Queensland, the Kangaroos and the Melbourne Storm.
What does Smith retirement mean and what kind of an impact it will have on the game?
Cameron Smith met Kevin Walters in person on Sunday in Brisbane to inform him of his decision. He has been stewing over it for a few weeks and left many puzzled by the timing of his announcement less than two weeks out from the team announcement for game one in his home city of Melbourne.
But the burden of representative football has taken its toll on Smith's family life in recent years, with the Melbourne No.9 admitting it's impacted on his ability to be the best father and husband to his family.
He also admitted last year's series was more physically and mentally exhausting than his previous campaigns, and didn't want his club to deal with the repercussions of that in 2018.
What does this mean for the Melbourne Storm?
It means it's likely to see Cameron Smith play on beyond the end of this season, admitting he had given thought to how retiring from representative football may help prolong his career if he decided to play on. The Storm will be without at least Will Chambers, Billy Slater and Cameron Munster during the Origin period this year, but will now have Smith at the club to keep the team's title defence on track.
What does this mean for Queensland?
On the back of the retirement of Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston last year, Queensland will be as vulnerable as they have been in more than a decade.
Not only do they now lose the greatest hooker in the history of rugby league, they lose the best game manager in the business.
The voice of authority and assurance will be gone, and the head noise that has plagued NSW in recent years may creep into a Queensland team missing a wealth of experience.
Who will play in the No.9 jersey for Queensland?
Andrew McCullough is the obvious choice ahead of Jake Granville and Jake Friend, however the interesting one will be whether Kevin Walters wants to throw Dragons halfback Ben Hunt into the role.
Hunt played well for Brisbane at the end of last year in the unfamiliar role and was also selected by Mal Meninga as a utility option because of his ability to play dummy half.
As it stands, Cameron Munster and Hunt have their noses in front to be the Maroons halves however the retirement of Smith may shift the conversation that would mean the out-of-sorts Michael Morgan pushes for a halves spot with Hunt in the No.9 jersey.
Who will be goal kicker for Queensland?
This is a huge problem for the Maroons. The retirement of Thurston and now Smith means there is not a recognised goal-kicker at the waiting. Valentine Holmes (71 per cent success rate) has kicked in the past and is probably the Maroons' best option, however he hasn't been in the best of form to start 2018 and isn't considered a shoo-in to be selected.
Cameron Munster kicked 12 goals last year at 52 per cent, while Ben Hunt has a career success rate of 69 per cent but hasn't kicked a goal since 2014.
None of the players mentioned have kicked under pressure and it could haunt the Maroons especially with a sharp-shooter like James Maloney likely to get the nod for NSW?
Who will be captain of the Maroons?
Kevin Walters says he hasn't thought about it just yet, however did mention the names Greg Inglis, Matt Scott and Billy Slater. He didn't mention Darius Boyd. Was this an oversight or a reflection of his thought process heading into the opening game of the series. The leadership qualities of the Maroons have separated them from NSW throughout their dominance but there's now a huge void in that department.
What does this mean for NSW?
It won't change the team Brad Fittler will want to select but what it does do is inject plenty of confidence into a team that has been somewhat intimidated by the aura of the all-conquering Maroons.
NSW are expected to blood plenty of rookies in the opening game of the series, many of whom will be delighted to hear Smith has called it a day. No Thurston, Cronk or Smith for Queensland means there's no excuses for failing to turn the tide this year.
What does this mean for Australia?
It's likely Boyd Cordner will be named captain of the Kangaroos but there's no stand-out long-term successor in the NRL.
It will mark the changing of the guard for the Kangaroos, who for so long have been dominated by Queenslanders.
The Blues are beginning to turn the tide. While Josh Dugan was the only Blues player in the Kangaroos backline for the World Cup final last year, Smith was just one of three Queenslanders in the forwards who played in that 6-0 win over England at Suncorp Stadium.
It also leaves the Kangaroos with the same goal-kicking problem the Queenslander's face in this year's series.