Meninga: Cameron Smith is best ever

Written By Unknown on Senin, 02 Desember 2013 | 23.41

CAMERON Smith is now starting to enter the debate of where he sits in the list of rugby league greats of all time.

Already considered by many to be the greatest hooker to lace a boot, Smith's cabinet full of trophies and accolades is now complete after leading the Kangaroos to a World Cup triumph in the UK.

It was the one prize the 30-year-old had yet to collect and now that he has led one of the most dominant tours for Australia the skipper is being lauded for his role.

Smith did not miss a single game for the entire World Cup, leading Australia out for all six matches in a feat only matched by interchange prop Andrew Fifita.

Cameron Smith of Australia celebrates with his winners medal after the Rugby League World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia at Old Trafford. Source: Getty Images

Smith saved his best for last with a game high 44 tackles in the final win over New Zealand and for a player that averages over 100 possessions a game the sensational hooker made just one error all tournament.

Queensland coach Mal Meninga said there was no doubt Smith was the finest No.9 of all time and was now beginning to be considered among some of the game's greats.

"If he is not the best hooker of all time then I don't know who is to be honest with you," Meninga said.

"I think you talk to any hooker and he is well out in front.

"He is resilient and he is tough and he doesn't seem to get any injuries. He just keeps pounding it out.

"He is one of our greatest ever players, there is no doubt about that."

Maroons legend Gorden Tallis said it was Smith's ability to make his teammates better players that was most impressive.

"He makes everybody look better," Tallis said.

"His ability to make everybody around him look better and go on looking like he is doing nothing is the greatest quality to have in our game."

Cameron Smith offloads during the Rugby League World Cup Semi Final match against Fiji. Source: Getty Images

In 2013 Smith led Melbourne to the World Club Challenge title, Queensland to an eighth-straight series win and the Kangaroos to World Cup redemption.

Starting with an NRL All Stars appearance on February 9, Smith played 35 games of rugby league in 42 weeks and amassed over 1300 tackles and 44 hours of time on the football field.

Cronulla prop Fifita set the record with 36 games in 2013, while Newcastle's Darius Boyd and Manly's Kieran Foran both equalled Smith with 35 appearances.

It was an effort matched by two Wallabies - Stephen Moore and skipper Ben Mowen - in playing 35 games in a calendar year as the two toughest sporting codes continue to push athletes to breaking point.

But it's Smith's efforts, with his high work rate in defence and handling the ball more than anybody else in the game, that is most stunning.

At 30 he is showing no signs of slowing down. Smith has one year left on his Melbourne Storm contract and is expected to be offered a three-year contract to see out his career at the Brisbane Broncos.

If Smith keeps playing until 2017 it would put the champion from Logan on the verge of reaching the incredible figures set by Immortal-in-waiting Darren Lockyer.

Lockyer retired in 2011 after 355 NRL games, 63 Tests for Australia, 38 Origin appearances and two All Stars starts.

Smith has already played 261 NRL games at the Storm, 37 Tests for the Kangaroos, 30 Origins and three All Star matches.

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