Smith back for Qld, as coaching consultant
Cameron Smith (AAP Image/Samantha Manchee)
He may not have sent an SOS to Johnathan Thurston or Cooper Cronk but Queensland coach Kevin Walters couldn't resist luring ex-skipper Cameron Smith back for the Maroons' 2018 State of Origin campaign.
Walters said Smith would be a key consultant throughout the series as Queensland begins life without their 'big three' and had already been invaluable before naming the Origin I squad on Monday.
A new look Maroons team will be unveiled for June 6's opener in Melbourne with Walters sweating on the availability of prop Matt Scott (judiciary), fullback Billy Slater (hamstring), No.7 hopeful Ben Hunt (cork) and lock Josh McGuire (ankle).
"I still communicate with Cam about a lot of things because of his knowledge of the game particularly on all things Queensland," Walters told ABC Grandstand.
"Don't worry, Cameron Smith is still in the background, still in the Queensland camp."
Walters admitted he was still getting his head around Smith's shock recent representative retirement but believed the 42 Origin game veteran hooker had made the right call.
"His performance in game three last year, he was the best player on the field," Walters said.
"At his age ...I don't think it was going to get any better for him."
Test half Michael Morgan's poor form for North Queensland this year prompted calls for Walters to send an SOS to Thurston or Cronk for 2018 after they announced their rep retirement last year.
But asked if he had considered it, Walters said: "Not at all.
"It was their decision. They thought long and hard over what they had done at this level.
"I wouldn't think that is an option for us for game one."
St George Illawarra playmaker Hunt is expected to combine with Melbourne's Cameron Munster in the halves in Origin I, filling the huge shoes left by Thurston and Cronk.
Walters admitted the Maroons faced a daunting task.
"When I first got the job (in 2016) I knew this day was coming," Walters said.
"We are very fortunate to get two more years out of those guys but I looked ahead of the horizon and I think we have got some good talent coming through."
Walters tipped Munster to take up where Smith left off in the Maroons' attack.
"Smith was at the centre of our attack last year but I am excited by the players we have been throwing around the table, Cameron Munster for instance," he said.
Walters confirmed Greg Inglis was favourite to be named Queensland captain.
© AAP 2018