The man rated Queensland’s greatest State of Origin leader – Wally Lewis – says Cameron Smith must now be considered for the accolade after the Maroons sealed a 10th series win in 11 years.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters hailed skipper Smith as the best leader he’d seen after Queensland clinched a 26-16 Origin II win at a sold out Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
But Lewis – who captained Queensland a record 30 times in his 31 Origins – went one better, saying Smith must be classed among the Maroons’ all-time great generals.
“He will be regarded as one of the great leaders,” he told AAP.
“He always seems to have enormous time.
“That’s the difference between the good and the great players – they are never in a hurry and never panic in any situation.
“And his leadership is great. He doesn’t say a lot but when he does the players listen.”
In a record 38th Origin, Smith savoured his fourth series win since taking over the Maroons captaincy from Darren Lockyer in 2012.
Queensland will now chase their fifth series clean sweep after the Origin II win inspired by winger Dane Gagai’s record equalling hat-trick.
The Maroons, who had their eight straight series winning run snapped in 2014, are showing no sign of slowing despite boasting seven players on the wrong side of 30.
“I shudder to think how many more they will win,” said Lewis, who earned a record eight Origin man of the match awards.
“A lot of people wonder when they are going to get old and tired.
“But in this form they are going to be keeping the records going.
“They might be a little long in the tooth but they are still going well.”
NSW coach Laurie Daley vowed to stand by his players in the game three dead rubber -much to Lewis’s surprise.
“They have to pick a team who are going to be able to handle pressure situations,” Lewis said.
“They came up with some plays but in a fight you have to be able to throw the knockout punch – that’s what they lack.”
Queensland backrower Sam Thaiday faces a three-week ban after being hit with a grade-two dangerous throw charge for a first half tackle on Paul Gallen.
This is Gallen’s final Origin series and the loss, in his record-equalling 15th game as NSW skipper, means the Cronulla star has featured in 11 series losses in his career – another record.