Smith bombshell doesn’t pass smell test
IT'S the sheer audacity of it that rankles the most.
Queensland's mind games over the possible selection of legend Cameron Smith have reached an insulting level - the point of no return.
One of the first things Maroons coach Kevin Walters said in his Monday press conference was: "It's war".
He means it.
Walters is seriously trying to get away with playing cutesy mind games over the single most significant question of the whole 2019 State of Origin series.
The possible Queensland comeback of Cameron Smith is too decisive to play games over. It is a game-changer that demands an honest response.
Instead, Walters tossed up rubbish on Monday - and it has, unavoidably, thrown the whole series into a mess of questions and uncertainty.
It all started with his vague announcement that an unnamed player would be coming into camp as No. 21 at some stage this week.
"We've named Tim Glasby at 18, Anthony Milford at 19, Kurt Capewell will be coming in from the Sharks later in the week as our development player and then there's player No. 21 to be confirmed," Walters said.
When a reporter responded: "Is his name Cam Smith?", Walters again played the idiot.
"I'll get back to you later in the week," he said with a grin on his face.
Just like that, Smith became the biggest story of State of Origin game one.
The Maroons' mentor added fuel to the fire on Monday night when he revealed Smith would be coming into Queensland camp.
"Cameron Smith will be coming in over the week," Walters told Nine's 100% Footy.
"When we've got this guy's expertise on hand… no doubt he'll be coming in and giving us a hand. We've already done some work around that area with our hookers.
"I feel the way Cameron Smith plays the game of rugby league, he's the smartest hooker in the competition and we need to use those smarts throughout the week to get the best advantage for this Queensland team.
"Ben Hunt and Moses (Mbye), they're very talented players, but I'm sure we could all use some wisdom from Cameron Smith."
Still he refused to address the real question about Smith's possible comeback - possibly one of the greatest rugby league fairy tales.
Walters told Fox League's NRL 360 his team's No.21 player "could be anyone".
"That's what it means TBA. That's all it means. To be announced for those that don't understand."
When asked by co-host Paul Kent if the identity of the mystery player would be revealed whenever Cameron Smith announced he was fit to play, Walters responded: "Kenty, miracles do happen, mate, but it is TBA, let's leave it at that."
Walters' answers have ensured that the agenda for the build-up to game one at Suncorp Stadium on June 5 will be all about Smith - and that may be exactly what he wants, even if Smith remains no chance of playing for anyone but the Melbourne Storm.
The Courier-Mail has reported the No. 21 mystery is a Queensland play to allow Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt to come into camp without jeopardising his NRL appearance for the Cowboys against the Titans on Sunday.
The whole mess comes just as the former Queensland captain Smith had appeared to finally dismiss the rumours.
Earlier this month, Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher became the latest to ask Smith to end his representative retirement and resume his record 42-game Origin career, after the Maroons were hit by a No.9 injury crisis.
Hatcher sent an SOS after incumbent Maroons hooker Andrew McCullough broke down with a knee injury following Sydney Roosters rake Jake Friend's serious biceps complaint.
Yet Smith appeared to finally pour cold water on a return when he wrote a recent column for Player's Voice explaining why he was never going to return for Queensland and that he was happily retired from representative football.
In 2002, the Maroons included "TBC" in their squad to allow flying winger Lote Tuqiri to serve a dangerous throw ban and feature in their game-two win over the Blues.
And Queensland pulled the ultimate rabbit out of the hat when UK-based Allan Langer made a shock return in 2001, flying into inspire a series deciding game-three victory.
- with AAP