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'Aura about him': Smith joins Slater's all-star Maroons coaching staff

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28th March, 2022
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Cameron Smith has finally agreed to be part of Queensland’s coaching set-up for this year’s State of Origin series with the QRL announcing on Tuesday he would be an assistant to rookie mentor Billy Slater.

After months of dodging the question about whether he would be helping the Maroons out in an official capacity, Smith will be an assistant alongside Johnathan Thurston and Josh Hannay.

“It’s a jersey and a team that I’m extremely proud of and passionate about,” Smith said in the Maroons announcement.

“But I’m also passionate about Queensland people and our state and making sure that they feel success, and that they can be proud of their football side when we represent them.

“If I can help in some way and give the current players the opportunity to be at their best on game night, and to help or assist Billy to be the best coach he can be, then that’s my role.

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“It’s not about anything else, other than trying to help people be better through my knowledge, through my experiences, and if I can make a small difference, I’ll be happy.”

Thurston acted under Paul Green on last year’s coaching staff and was thrilled to be back while Hannay has developed a reputation as one of the next in line for an NRL full-time gig after caretaker stints at the Cowboys and Sharks in recent seasons.

Hannay was the first assistant confirmed by Slater when he accepted the role last year.

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Nate Myles and Allan Langer, both of whom have played more than 30 Origin matches for their state, are also part of Slater’s support staff.

Slater said Smith, his long-time teammate and captain with the Storm, Maroons and Kangaroos, would add an extra dimension to Queensland’s attempt to wrest the Origin shield back from NSW.

“If you look at what he brought as a player and a leader, I think that’s also what he can bring as a member of the coaching staff,” Slater said of Smith, the most-capped Origin player in history with 42 appearances.

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“Some people have this aura about them, and Cameron Smith is one of those people.

“He didn’t have to say a lot as captain of the Queensland State of Origin team, you felt it more than anything … you felt his presence.”

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