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26 hours ago
If anyone doubts how much the players care about Friday's Centenary Test match then they should speak to Australian captain Cameron Smith.
"If I die after the game I would be pretty happy," said Smith.
Smith's feelings for the game were heightened after he was called upon to lead the Kangaroos when skipper Darren Lockyer pulled out with a knee injury.
It will be the second time he has captained his country in just his eighth Test match for Australia.
The honour of leading Australia in the Centenary Test with New Zealand at the SCG, exactly 100 years after the original rugby league international, rates highly in Smith's career accolades.
Those achievements are piling up quickly too for the 24-year-old Melbourne star who last year led his team to the NRL premiership, was captain in Australia's 58-0 thumping of the Kiwis and was named the world's best player with his Golden Boot award.
The 2006 Dally M medallist, who may get to lead Queensland in Origin I if Lockyer is unable to recover in time for the May 21 clash, said this honour held its own standing in his list of achievements.
"One hundred years to the day that Australian rugby league started as an international game is something very special and not something I really thought I would get the chance to do," Smith said.
"It's a massive honour. Obviously Darren was the captain originally and I'm very disappointed he is not in the team.
"He is an important part of Australian rugby league and it would have been nice for him to play in this match.
"I feel very privileged to step in and be captain for a Centenary Test."