Smith to surpass Clive Churchill’s record
CAMERON Smith could have retired yesterday and still been a legend, but he'll add another milestone to a career with more decorations than a Christmas tree when he leads Australia out against France on Friday night.
Smith will surpass Clive Churchill's record for most consecutive Tests with his 36th Australian match in a row.
Passing any record set by Churchill is an honour - after all, they don't name medals after anyone less than the best - and this latest accolade for Smith, like so many others through his long career, is a testament to his durability, longevity and continued excellence.
The last time Smith missed a Test was in the 2009 Four Nations, coincidentally against France. Since then he's suited up every time, regardless of opposition, conditions or whatever else.
"In this format, where it's a tournament, there are times when you are a little bit busted.
"But I've got great pride in the green and gold jersey and the opportunity I have to wear it.
"I've never really entertained the idea of giving it up to someone else or sitting out a week and watching the rest of my teammates play.
"I think that's the key to it - I've always wanted to be part of every game the Kangaroos have played while I've been a part of the side."
It sounds like a simple thing, who wouldn't want to play for Australia? But given the tournaments always come at the end of the season and Smith always runs deep into the finals it would be natural to assume that at least once he'd want a summer off.
But that's just not how Smith is wired. In every season since 2003 he's played at least 20 games. Since his Origin debut in Game III of that year he's played 42 of a possible 43 matches. He made his Test debut in 2006 and has played 51 of a possible 52 games. It's absurd.
Mal Meninga says he's tried to rest him, but Smith won't have it.
"He just laughs. Then I laugh, and I say 'OK, fair enough'" Meninga said.
"He's creating history at the moment and I don't want to be the person that stops that.
"It is incredible. It's testament to his ability, first and foremost, and his resilience as a rugby league player.
"It's a tough game and to keep turning up and keep playing at the level he does is extraordinarily good.
"That's why he's the leader of our country.
"In my mind, I don't think it'll ever be beaten."