Cameron Smith (second from right) with the State of Origin shield.

Is Smith leaving Queensland in the lurch for Origin?

After 59 games of State of Origin experience walked out the door at the end of last year through Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, another 42 games have evaporated with no Cameron Smith.

So that's now more than 100 games for Queensland – or three-quarters of the Maroons spine – that won seven series from the string of 11 over the past 12 years.

Don't forget Queensland coach Kevin Walters and his selectors have to name their side for the June 6 opener at the MCG in 12 days time.

After digesting all that, it's fair to ask if Smith picked the right time to retire from representative football, especially Origin?

Queensland didn't just lose the best hooker in the NRL – the player who touches the ball most in a game – they also lost their captain and goal-kicker.

By Smith saying he's reached the end of the representative road, right on the eve of the Holden State of Origin series, has it been a selfish call when Queensland are already down on troops?

Put aside the retirees and there are the injuries to Josh McGuire, Matt Gillett and Tim Glasby in the forwards.

Former Queensland coach Mal Meninga, who won 20 of his 30 Origins at the helm and is now in charge of Australia, said there was no satisfactory time for Smith to retire.

"That's not what this is about really. You know as a player when your time is right," Meninga told NRL.com.

"He doesn't want to let his mates down. He doesn't want to go around another time because he feels he might be letting the team down.

"If you haven't got an appetite for it, if you feel you're not at the level you need to be, then stepping back is one of the most unselfish things you could do," Meninga said.

"He could have gone on another 12 months or more and got to 60 Tests and got to 50 Origins but he's said 'Hang on a sec, I believe I can prolong my career with Melbourne, my family needs me, and I've done all I possibly can for Australia and Queensland'.

"In my eyes, it's been a very unselfish thing to do."

His NRL club coach Craig Bellamy, who actually coached against Smith when he held the NSW Blues reins for three years [2008-10], agreed no departure timing would be perfect.

"Whatever time Cameron chose it was always going to be hard," Bellamy told NRL.com.

"If he'd done it five years ago, it would have been hard. Even if he did it in five years from here, I still reckon it would be very hard because he's still capable of playing that long.

"Whenever it happened it was going to be hard. But having said that, it opens up another chance for another player.

"It brings a new captain and a new goal-kicker. Kevvie (Walters) just lost his number one kicker last year (Thurston) and his number two this year. So it will be interesting to see if that comes into his thinking when he names his side.

"[NSW coach Brad Fittler] Freddy will have a few new faces too and guys in his team that can kick goals."

During last year's World Cup, Meninga stated several times he would not be the one to "retire Cameron".

Cameron Smith (right) before an Origin game with the Maroons.
Cameron Smith (right) before an Origin game with the Maroons. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

The reasons for that is because Meninga admired two great qualities in Smith.

"His longevity and his unselfishness," he told NRL.com.

"He has such composure and awareness in his execution. And his passing game is flawless. He brings forwards on to the ball beautifully; he makes good decisions in attack.

"He doesn't make too many bad decisions at all and he's played over 360 NRL games where he's making around 40 tackles a game. And with the speed of the modern game he's played 80 minutes and been the kicker as well.

"He's always had a strong team focus. He puts in for his teammates and knows that if everyone does that, the team is a success. And through that you get individual rewards."

Meninga said it was impossible to say if Queensland's success would have been as dominant without Smith.

"We were lucky to have him, I'll say that," he said. "When we started to get together in 2006 with me as coach, we didn't realise how good it was going to be.

"We wanted success but players like Smithy, JT, Greg [Inglis] and Billy [Slater] were only coming into their prime. They were continuing what Locky [Darren Lockyer] and Petero [Civoniceva] and others had started.

"It was just a really good time for the whole group – it wasn't about any one individual.

"We had some really good people and Cameron was at the top of those."