Almanac Rugby League – Cameron Smith: Nobody did it better


Image: WikiCommons


So, finally, it’s over! Cameron Smith has officially retired after a playing career unparalleled in rugby league history. ‘The greatest player ever’, ‘Best No. 9 ever’, ‘Future Immortal’, etc, etc. The accolades flow, and deservedly so. Smith was, most certainly, among the greatest players ever, the greatest player of his generation, the most resilient, the most influential on-field general, the best Captain, the heart and soul of the Melbourne Storm, Queensland god, Australian Kangaroos legend – and on and on it goes. There will be a few, impossible to please knockers, but that’s the tall poppy syndrome at its whinging worst.


Records? Just how many do you want to see? Start with these NRL stats:




Then go on to his State of Origin career: a record 42 matches over a 15 year period, 11 series wins, 6 years as State captain, 5 Wally Lewis Medals.  Throw in 56 Test matches for Australia over 12 seasons, 6 years as Captain, winning 87.5% of matches played. Add on 17 World Cup matches (only one game lost). Then complete the list with 4 NRL All Stars matches. All up, that makes well over 500 top flight matches, all of them played in the middle of the action, an amazing physical feat of endurance and resilience for a bloke whose playing weight was 90kgs. To see a full statistical analysis of Cameron Smith’s career click here.


There will be thousands of words written about Smith in the coming weeks. Some of it will be a bit over the top; a minor fringe will be uncomplimentary; the overwhelming majority will applaud and recognise one of the code’s true icons. I’m sure that Footy Almanac rugby leaguesters and the whole rugby league community join together in celebrating an outstanding career by a down-to-earth bloke who brought credit to the game, grateful that we were privileged to see one of the masters in action for so long.


Enjoy your retirement, Cameron, and thanks for the memories.


To read the NRL’s tribute to Cameron Smith click here.


Just a month ago, Gary Seeto put forward his thoughts on Cameron Smith’s retirement. To read Gary’s story click here.


Liam Hauser is an expert on State of origin football. To read his evaluation of Cameron Smith click here.


To return to our Footy Almanac home page click HERE.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at


  1. Comparing players across eras is fraught with danger for any number of reasons, so I’ll avoid that. Smith has been, without doubt, the pre-eminent player of his generation. What stood out for me was that he possessed that particular quality that only the very best in any sport have – time. Just that extra split second of instinct and/or calmness of thought that gave him the ability to observe the situation, assess the options, process the potentialities and then, invariably, choose the best option whether in attack or defence. His other great quality was his leadership, both on and off the field – second to none! Thank goodness he played for Queensland!

  2. Liam Hauser says

    Some records will surely remain forever: Bradman’s Test batting average, Muttiah Muralitharan’s figure of 800 Test wickets, and many (if not all) of Cameron Smith’s records. But comparing players across different eras is simply impossible. For various reasons, Bradman can’t be compared with any player from another era, and neither can Muralitharan. Likewise, Smith can’t be compared with a hooker from the days when scrums were contested. Yet in the 30-odd years that I’ve followed rugby league, Cameron Smith is a real standout.
    As Ian says, time is that special something that set Smith apart from everyone else. Perhaps because of that, something about Smith that really amazed me was how much influence he could have on a game of rugby league. It wasn’t something that could readily be seen, yet you could always realise it.

  3. Matthew O'HANLON says

    Key stat- only 7 games missed through injury- now that is amazing. A terrific player.

  4. Definitely the second most famous and second richest Cameron Smith from Queensland in world sport.

  5. It feels like the end of an era now that Smith has joined Slater and Cronk in departing the club – of course with Bellamy still at the helm and several star performers (including rep players) the Storm should still be an exciting team to watch. But will they be as iconic?

    I’ll miss Cam’s guile, steady boot and extraordinary leadership. I’ll echo Ian in saying how fortunate we were that he also wore maroon!

  6. Stirring again, PB? After such a long career, ‘Purple Cam’ is probably pretty well set up while ‘Mullet Cam’ still has plenty of time to add to his coffers over the next 20-30 years. Or should we refer to them as ‘Dormant Cam’ and ‘Active Cam’? Either way, it’s hardly an issue of seismic proportions!

  7. TPC Sawgrass is the sort of course that will suit “Mullet Cam” with his exquisite short game. Loves the big tournaments and tough as nails – so pressure won’t affect him. Form has been building nicely over recent weeks. Omen.

  8. I’m sorry. Smith was a cat on the field.

    And that’s not taking into account the good reasons, tactics and management/cap related, why his club side is widely disrespected.

    He’s far from mourned by many for good reason.

  9. There’s a good dash of sour grapes in those talking him down too Graeme. I don’t have a lot of time for Joey Johns, but I can agree he was bloody outstanding with what he did at 7 for the Knights and Blues.

    How long will it take for the disrespect for the Storm to subside in your eyes? The stain on the Bulldogs was significant, but I don’t see anywhere near as much hungover vitriol directed at them these days…

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