After almost seven months of conjecture regarding his future in the game, future immortal and Maroons legend Cameron Smith has agreed to terms with the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) to create one of the most potent coaching panels in Origin history.
Despite claims that Smith was in line to link up with his former Storm teammate and current Queensland head coach Billy Slater arising as early as September of last year, a contract was only inked on Tuesday morning.
The 42-time Origin representative's recommittal to his state's cause will see a coaching dream team created, with Johnathan Thurston (37 caps) and Josh Hannay (two) already signed on to serve under Slater.
“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,” the dual Clive Churchill medallist said of his great mate.
“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.”
While it had previously been suggested that Smith's media commitments would act as an impediment to getting his hands dirty in Origin camp, the most decorated Maroon expressed that his passion was too strong to quash.
“It’s a jersey and a team that I’m extremely proud of and passionate about,” Smith told qrl.com.au.
“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.
“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.”
Given Queensland's nightmarish series in 2021 in which they conceded 94 Blues' points and posted only 26 of their own, those lodged between Tweed Heads and Cape York can be forgiven for wishing the experienced quartet were pulling on boots rather than headsets come early June.
However, with 112 games of Origin experience between the quartet and a shared knowledge collected across 1229 first-grade outings, these same Queenslanders who were left with head in hand last year should now, rightfully, have them jutted.
The three-game series is set to commence at Accor Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 8.