Cameron Smith has announced his retirement from representative football, effective immediately, and opened up an entire can of worms. Here's the answer to the five biggest questions following the hooker's announcement.
Who will Queensland select at hooker?
Smith leaves a huge absence at hooker, but Queensland have been blessed with some stellar players over the years, and Kevin Walters has a number of candidates in mind. If not for his well-below average club form, Jake Friend would've been certainly in the box seat, but it's Andrew McCullough that has announced himself as the prime candidate. McCullough has that tough stuff required for Origin, and he's a leader at club level. Jake Granville and James Segeyaro are also well in the mix, but McCullough is the firm favourite.
Who will be the Maroons' new captain?
Smith has led Queensland out of the tunnel 21 times, meaning it's been a while since someone other than the Melbourne hooker captained Queensland. Following the retirement of Jonathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, it's unsure what approach Walters will take here. Greg Inglis has captained South Sydney for years now, and has been in the Origin arena for over a decade, but Walters may opt for a young, long-term candidate. The problem is the clear option, Matt Gillett, has been ruled out of the series with a fractured vertebrae. With no other clear choices in mind, expect Inglis to get the nod in the short-term.
Where does this leave Cameron Smith's playing future?
Having hung up the boots for Queensland and Australia, Smith will now put his entire focus into the Melbourne Storm for the remainder of his career. Off contract at the end of this year, this certainly throws up question marks over whether the hooker will hang up the boots altogether at the end of 2018. He certainly has the ability to play on for another season, so don't be surprised to see Smith play on in 2019 and become the NRL's first 400-game player.
Will Boyd Cordner be handed the Kangaroos captaincy?
It certainly makes sense, with the Blues captain a certain starter for Australia. There has been some youth rejuvinated into the Kangaroos outfit in recent years, but Cordner still has at least half a decade left playing in these representative teams. The likes of Jake Trbojevic and Matt Gillett definitely deserve a mention, but Cordner will be short odds to get the nod from Mal Meninga to lead the country.
Will this affect the New South Wales line-up?
It shouldn't play too big of a part in how Brad Fittler selects his maiden Origin squad, but it may change his tactics. No player in recent memory has had the ability to control the tempo of a match like Smith, so the loss of Queensland's most capped player may mean Fittler targets that middle-third of the pitch more without Smith leading the way. Likely debutants in Damien Cook and Reagan Campbell-Gillard will be told to target whoever Queensland choose in their number nine role, and could finally change the tide in Origin, something that has been threatening to occur for the last couple of series.