Meninga instilling humility into Kangaroos, says Smith
RUGBY LEAGUE: Kangaroos skipper Cameron Smith says teams coached by Mal Meninga are ingrained with giving due respect to the opposition.
And despite crushing its rivals in five successive wins in 2016, and outscoring them 146 to 44, that won't change this Monday (12.30am AEST) when Australia meets New Zealand in the Four Nations final at Anfield.
"I have been coached by him (Meninga) for quite a long time now; we started with State of Origin back in 2006,” Smith said.
"That was the one main thing that he introduced into the Origin team as well: being humble with your success and gracious in defeat.
"I think that is a special part of us at the moment ... we show a lot of respect to our opposition every time that we go out and play, and we show that respect by going out and playing our best football.”
Smith passed Meninga's total of 46 appearances for his country in Australia's 14-8 win over the Kiwis earlier this month and now only his predecessor, Darren Lockyer, stands in front of him on the games tally with 59.
"I think I'll just carry on playing,” he said. "I haven't really looked to the future and put an end date on my representative career. It's a huge year next year, having a World Cup on home soil.
"I played in the World Cup in 2008 back home when we lost and that was a pretty shallow feeling, losing that trophy in front of our home crowd.
"I want to give myself every opportunity to be involved in that next year and after that tournament's finished there's a whole off-season to think about continuing on the following year. I'm still contracted to the Storm in 2018. I'll probably think about that after next year.”
Smith said he was enjoying the game as much as ever.
"It's a bit more difficult now because I've got three young kids and my wife at home and it's hard to leave those guys for six weeks,” he said. "I love spending time with my family.
"But as far as playing and being around the team and playing in great stadiums and having victories, it's still as enjoyable as when I started back in 2006.
"I'm still excited to get a jersey and have my name read out at the start of each week when Mal names the team. I still feels great. I feel I'm as strong and fit as I've ever been in my whole career.”