Maroons star Cameron Smith quits weeks before Origin opener

The champion hooker will continue playing for the Melbourne Storm but he will no longer represent his state or country

"It's been a fairly lengthy process for me to come to this decision".

"I probably started having thoughts about finishing up my representative career past year".

The 34-year-old Smith dropped the bombshell news at a Melbourne media conference on Tuesday, saying he'd been thinking about it since last year and "now is the right time for me to finish up".

Cameron Smith made his Origin debut for Queensland at age 20, and his Test debut at 23 - at such a young age, you could excuse a player for being naive and nervous on the biggest stage.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Smith said the decision stemmed from his struggle to back up after Origin games past year, saying that he felt the physical and mental strain.

"Looking back on it now I don't think that it is fair on myself, I don't think it's fair on my family and also my teammates back here at Melbourne Storm".

Smith skippered Queensland 21 times and Australia 33 times after taking over from Lockyer at the end of 2011, claiming two World Cups as captain to go with his six Origin wins as skipper.

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His exit coincides with the representative retirements of Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, which were announced a year ago.

In the immediate term, Walters and the Maroons will need to appoint a new captain, find a hooker and goal kicker who can handle the pressure of State of Origin. Smith has won two NRL premierships with the Storm.

"Well played Cam Smith - True professional & leader both on and off the field".

Regardless, Smith will depart the representative arena as one of the most prolific players at the game's highest level.

Walters said it was fitting Smith's final Origin appearance in 2017 was one to remember.

Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough appears Smith's likely replacement at hooker while the kicking stocks look a little bare, perhaps forcing Cameron Munster or Josh McGuire to do the goal kicking for the Maroons.

Darius Boyd, Billy Slater or Greg Inglis are the most likely candidates to take over the captaincy, however Boyd has battled form and fitness at Brisbane this season.

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