Melbourne hooker Cameron Smith will become just the second Storm player to represent Queensland after he was today selected for the third and final State of Origin match to be played at Suncorp Stadium next week.
The 20-year-old has been a revelation for the Storm this year since taking over from Richard Swain at end of the 2002 season and is set to make his Origin debut after just 18 NRL matches.
As a key component of the Storm?s resurgence this season Smith is currently the NRL?s leading tackler averaging over 34 tackles per game and more than 39 tackles over the past month.
?I wasn?t really thinking about it (Origin selection) this year or even next year so it?s certainly a nice shock,? Smith said.
?I guess you are always a chance when there are a few injuries and things don?t go to plan. It was unexpected but I?m obviously very pleased.?
The former Queensland under 19s captain and Junior Kangaroo ? Smith has represented his country for the past two years - admits it took him some time to move out of the shadow cast by Swain.
?At the start of the season I still felt like I was filling in for Richard Swain a little bit,? Smith explained.
?I felt a bit of pressure at the start of the season, speaking to the fans at the beginning of the year they were constantly saying ?you?ve got big shoes to fill?.
?But after the first couple of games this year the coaches said I shouldn?t worry about the Richard Swain thing and just play my own game and everything else will look after itself.
?A couple of the boys said ?he (Swain) has gone now so you?re the man to do the job? and that?s the sort of frame of mind you?ve got to take into each game.
?That?s what I?ve done and it?s worked out well so far.?
Smith played all his junior football with Logan Brothers in Brisbane before joining Melbourne?s feeder club Brisbane Norths in 2001.
He made his NRL debut last season playing at halfback when young replacement Marty Turner ? who was filling in for the injured Matt Orford ? was injured in a car accident.
Smith played two games for the Storm before spending the rest of the season with Norths. He has gone on to play every match for the club this year and even beat the NRL judiciary in round 10, getting off a dangerous throw charge.
?I can?t wait to get out there on Suncorp and I?m sure playing at home Queensland will want a big game - we certainly don?t want to be beaten three nil,? Smith said.
?I had the opportunity to play for the Queensland 19s in an Origin curtain raiser which was fantastic so I?d be happy with two minutes on the field if that?s all they give me.?
Smith was at his best in the Storm?s 18-8 win over the Raiders in Canberra on Sunday, he logged 25 tackles to halftime on the way to amassing 41 for the match.
He joins former Storm forward Russell Bawden as the only Melbourne players to represent the Maroons at State of Origin level.
Meanwhile Storm prop Robbie Kearns rejoined his NSW Origin teammates today after again being named in the Blues squad for Origin three.
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