I can handle Qld Origin pressure: Smith
An unflappable Cameron Smith says he can live with the notoriety of being captain of the Queensland side which relinquishes State of Origin’s best winning streak, should NSW prevail in next week’s interstate series decider at Suncorp Stadium.
The July 4 clash is arguably the most-anticipated battle between the rival states since the late Arthur Beetson and fiery halfback Tommy Raudonikis took the gloves off at Lang Park in 1980.
But Smith, who replaced legend Darren Lockyer as Maroons skipper, says he’s comfortable with the responsibility and pressure of leading Queensland into Wednesday week’s series-deciding sellout.
“There’s going to be a time where Queensland loses a series and there’s going to be a captain – there has to be a captain,” Smith said.
“Whether it’s me or not doesn’t really bother me.”
Smith will accept losing provided his players perform to their best and give everything for each other on the night.
“If we all do that and we’re beaten by a better side, you can’t do anything about that,” he said.
“Personally, I’m not worried about what people say about me. If I’m the first captain to lose a series after Locky … I’ve won one before (2008) so I’m capable of doing it.
“All I’m worried about is that I can walk off the field and look Mal in the eye and look the other boys in the eye and believe that I’ve done a good job for them.”
Smith has no need to be worried, as he has a magnificent Origin record.
He led Queensland to a series-deciding win in Lockyer’s absence in 2008.
Had an elbow injury not forced him to miss the opening game of the 2010 series, Smith would be lining up for his 28th consecutive Origin game since his debut in 2003.
He has played in five of Origin’s 14 series deciders, winning the past three in a row – starting with the last game of 2006 which kick-started Queensland’s remarkable streak.
Queensland face their biggest test next week with former Blues halfback Ricky Stuart piecing together an aggressive, big, mobile side which has the ability to end their Origin dynasty.
The Maroons named 20 players on Tuesday, including Billy Slater, who would be given until the end of the week by coach Mal Meninga to decide if he could play after further physio on his troublesome knee in Melbourne this week.
“Billy ran yesterday morning (Monday) and he was very upbeat about that session so we are going to give him until the end of the week to make that final decision – Saturday at the latest,” Meninga said.
“At this stage, we are very hopeful, but uncertain.
“Billy is desperate to play so that’s why we will give him that extra time – he deserves that respect.”
Starting prop Matt Scott’s role in the decider is also unclear and will be determined by how he is coping emotionally after attending his mother Diane’s funeral in Ilfracombe on Wednesday.
“We just have to see where Matty is at the end of the week – there are some concerns there whether he is right to go,” said Meninga.© AAP 2013
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