Wed, May 16, 12:05pm by Staff Writer
Queensland and Australian captain Cameron Smith announced his retirement from representative rugby league on Tuesday afternoon in a shock to all in the sport.
Smith’s retirement has slashed the odds of New South Wales claiming the best-of-three series which starts at the MCG in Melbourne on June 6.
The Blues are now $1.50 to win the State of Origin series, with a seismic shift in odds usually unseen based on the omission of one player from a squad.
The Maroons will relish the underdog tag that they will have for this upcoming series as they are now $2.60 outsiders, out from $2.15.
Cameron Smith has represented Queensland in 42 State of Origin matches, winning 11 State of Origin series and captaining the Maroons to their five most recent series wins.
Smith cited an inability to play for his NRL club the Melbourne Storm following Origin as a reason contributing to his retirement from representative football.
A father to three young children, Smith remarked that he wished to spend more time with his family and that stepping away from representative football would allow him to do this.
Smith has captained Australia to their two most recent Rugby League World Cup victories in 2013 and 2017, playing 56 test matches for the Kangaroos in total.
Game one of the best-of-three series takes place in Melbourne with the Blues $1.57 favourites, in from $1.75 earlier this week.
The Maroons are $2.40 outsiders and 4.5-point underdogs on the $1.90 handicap.
Smith has traditionally played three or four days after a State of Origin match, but failed to do so during the 2017 season, as his 34-year-old body is beginning to catch up to him.
The brutally and force with which a State of Origin game is played has also contributed to Smith’s fatigue, as he has been the face of the Origin game for a number of years both on and off the field.
Queensland will this year be without Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith who have all retired from representative football in the last 12 months.
It will be a challenging time for Maroons coach Kevin Walters, who will not be implementing an almost entirely new spine for the upcoming series.
Jake Friend, Jake Granville and Andrew McCullough are touted as possible replacements for Smith, although none of those three players are of the ilk of a future immortal of the game of rugby league.
The major beneficiary of Smith’s decision will be the Melbourne Storm, who retain the services for their captain and hooker during the Origin period.
Melbourne are now Premiership favourites at $4.75, ahead of the Dragons at $5 and Roosters at $6.50 at Sportsbet.
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