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Stat Attack: Smith, JT exit creates goal-kicking problem

Gorden Tallis tells the story to illustrate Cameron Smith's influence in the interstate arena.

Before his first State of Origin game in 2003, which doubled as Tallis's last, Smith with just 15 NRL games to his name, was putting his hand up to take on the goalkicking duties when Darren Lockyer wasn't keen.

Josh Hannay ended up taking the tee in that 36-6 dead-rubber win, with Smith claiming it back the following series.

He handed it off to Johnathan Thurston a year later, and since then the two Queensland champions have taken 94 per cent of Queensland's shots at goal.

Of the nine, count them, just nine attempts taken by anyone else in Maroon in the last 14 years, Justin Hodges's goal was a parting gift at the end of 2015's famous 52-6 thumping.

Only ex-Canberra sharpshooter Clinton Schifcofske had more than two attempts before Thurston resumed his regular duties.

Of Thurston's record 99 goals from 124 attempts, an Origin tally that may well never be beaten, none underscored his influence off the tee better than his final strike.

With a busted shoulder that would end his 2017 season and his representative career, Thurston nailed the match-winning, near sideline conversion with two minutes left on the clock, around 82,000 screaming NSW Blues fans and the scores tied at 16-16.

The Maroons had a more than capable Thurston replacement – the man with more NRL goals than anyone else in history and more experience in the Origin arena than any other.

And then that man announced his representative retirement on Tuesday.

Now Kevin Walters has Ben Hunt, Cameron Munster, Valentine Holmes and Kalyn Ponga as his potential goal-kickers. The latter two are no certainties to be picked.

They have just 77 combined first-grade goals to their names.

From being spoilt with the best sharpshooter in Origin history, the Maroons are suddenly now scrounging for someone to take the tee.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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