Cameron Smith has achieved just about everything there is to in professional rugby league.
But the legendary hooker finds himself in strange waters as the newest member of Billy Slater’s Queensland coaching staff.
Smith joins Johnathan Thurston and Josh Hannay as Slater’s brains trust, as the Maroons desperately try to wrestle back State of Origin dominance from Brad Fittler’s Blues.
Thurston and Hannay have both served as Queensland assistants before, while the latter has also been an assistant and interim coach at both the Cowboys and Sharks in the NRL.
“Those guys have got a little bit of coaching experience already, both at Origin level and at NRL level,” Smith told Nine’s Adam Jackson of his fellow Maroons coaches.
“I’m sort of like the new bloke, so they might be carrying me a bit during this series.”
Smith, though, has a message for anyone questioning the experience of the team Slater has assembled.
“I don’t think Brad Fittler had a lot of coaching experience when he took over the NSW side either, and he has been quite successful in his time,” Smith said.
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“This isn’t an NRL job. We’re not dealing with a squad of 40 players. The group we’re going to be dealing with throughout these camps are the best of the best, they are the elite of the competition.
“We are just there really to guide them, and give them every opportunity to be at their best.”
And as for what he expects from rookie head coach Slater?
“He’s almost the exact opposite of (Melbourne coach) Craig Bellamy, where (Slater) has this persona of being a nice guy,” Smith laughed.
“When he needs to put his business hat on, he does, and that’s the way he conducted himself as a player.
“When it’s time to work he is very serious.”