Can Queensland compete without Cameron Smith? Image: Mark Stewart
Can Queensland compete without Cameron Smith? Image: Mark Stewart

Maroons SOS: Come back Cam

THE Queensland Rugby League has opened the door for a Cameron Smith Origin fairytale, appealing for the Storm champion to come out of representative retirement to save the injury-hit Maroons.

The push for Smith to resurrect his glittering Origin career has now reached the corridors of power, with QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher outlining his desire for the Storm hooker to again captain the Maroons.

It was almost a year ago that Smith dropped a bombshell on Queensland, with Origin's most-capped player revealing on May 15 he would walk away from the Maroons on the eve of the 2018 series.

But with Queensland's hooking stocks at crisis point following injuries to incumbent Andrew McCullough and Roosters veteran Jake Friend, Maroons stakeholders are sweating on the prospect of a Smith comeback.

Smith said on Sunday he would "never say never" to a Maroons return and the Queensland Rugby League declared it would give the green light to the 35-year-old running on to Suncorp Stadium for Game One on June 5.

"It would be manna from heaven if Cameron decided to come back," Hatcher said.

"Queensland needs Cameron Smith. We would love to have him back.

"The Queensland Rugby League would have no issues at all. We would rubber stamp Cam's return in a heartbeat.

The Melbourne veteran can still keep up with the best. Image: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
The Melbourne veteran can still keep up with the best. Image: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

"I would not stand in Cameron's way at all. In fact, I would hope Cameron says I'm coming back for one more campaign.

"His service was so magnificent that he owes us nothing, but the cupboard is bare. We need a captain and a hooker.

"Now is the perfect time for Cameron to come back and help us.

"How good would it be to see Cameron Smith leading the Maroons on to Suncorp Stadium in Origin I."

Queensland coach Kevin Walters said a fortnight ago that Smith was no hope of wearing Maroon again, but that was before McCullough's knee buckled at Broncos training on Monday.

Andrew McCullough will avoid surgery on his injured knee. Image: Adam Head
Andrew McCullough will avoid surgery on his injured knee. Image: Adam Head

The Maroons' hooking depth is so shallow Walters could be forced to use Dragons halfback Ben Hunt in the No.9 jumper.

Other options include Jake Granville, who has been struggling at the Cowboys, or 21-year-old Eels rake Reed Mahoney, who has played just 17 NRL games.

Smith amassed a record 42 Origin matches between 2003-17 and is still in masterful touch with Melbourne, convincing Hatcher the 392-game stalwart could suit up for a Maroons swan song.

"I don't know if Cam is prepared to do it, but if you look at all his attributes and his record, he should still be playing at Origin level," Hatcher said.

"It's probably a pipedream, but if you assessed all the Queensland candidates for the hooking role, Cameron is the standout choice.

What’s clear is the glory days are gone for Queensland. Image: Adam Head
What’s clear is the glory days are gone for Queensland. Image: Adam Head

"The injury to Andrew McCullough has really heightened the need for Cam to play Origin again.

"Jake Friend was well and truly in the mix but when you look at our stocks now, we've lost Jake and Andrew, so we're going to have to improvise in some way.

"Cameron made a decision to quit last year that surprised everyone, but I would love for Cam to put his hand up and say I'm coming back for Queensland."

News Corp Australia

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