Smith’s Origin comeback dead and buried
The Cameron Smith Origin fairytale is dead-and-buried with Queensland powerbrokers ruling out a dream comeback for the Queensland champion.
Queensland selector Darren Lockyer - the man from whom Smith inherited the Origin captaincy - says the Maroons will not go back to the future for the series opener on June 5 at Suncorp Stadium.
The push for Smith to come out of representative retirement has gathered major momentum with QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher last week appealing for the Storm skipper to return to solve their hooking and leadership crisis.
Everyone has an opinion on the 'Save us Smithy' Origin campaign, from Wayne Bennett to former NSW super coach Phil Gould, who is adamant the Maroons are playing mind games with the Blues and will pick the 35-year-old for Game One.
Lockyer has enormous respect for Smith's achievements, but says Queensland's selection hierarchy will not be considering Origin's most-capped player with a record 42 appearances.
"Cam is done with Origin," said Lockyer, who passed the Queensland and Test captaincy baton to Smith when he retired in 2011.
"There is no fairytale there with Cam.
"I've been talking with Cam generally about football. I haven't been reaching out for him to come back but in talking to Cam, he's done.
"I know Cam loves Queensland but he has made his decision and Cam is the type of bloke who once he makes his decision, he stands by it.
"He has left a great Origin legacy and I think he could potentially dilute that by coming back.
"Cameron gave us so much as a player but we won't be looking at comebacks for him.
"I know within myself that Cam has no intention of coming back.
"The reality is we have to move on and look forward as a selection panel."
Queensland coach Kevin Walters supported Lockyer's stance at a State of Origin promotion in Sydney, finally closing the door on weeks of speculation that Smith could answer a desperate Maroons SOS.
With incumbent rake Andrew McCullough to miss Origin I with a knee injury, the No.9 jumper is up for grabs.
Lockyer is a fan of Dragons playmaker Ben Hunt, who played a utility role in Origin III last year, while Walters hasn't ruled out an Origin debut for Cowboys hooker Jake Granville, who faces fellow Queenslander and Eels rival Reed Mahoney on Saturday night.
"We have to assess other options," Lockyer said.
"There's other players in the system that we can call on.
"Ben Hunt is one option at hooker. He has played the position before and the question mark is can he play Origin there for 80 minutes?
"With Macca going down, Ben is a frontline option. He played 60 minutes there last year in Origin III so he's the frontrunner for the job now."
Granville has struggled for his best form in the past 18 months. But the Cowboys rake has the experience of a 2015 premiership ring and a toughness forged by 120 first-grade games around the rucks.
Former Queensland coach Bennett watched Granville closely in Souths' 32-16 defeat of the Cowboys last Sunday and believes he can do the job.
"Jake has played a lot of state league and he tries really hard," Bennett said. "He is a good player, I've always rated him and he epitomises what Queensland is about.
"He wouldn't be out of place in the Origin team."