No one will surpass Cameron Smith’s final tally of State of Origin games, according to former record holder Darren Lockyer.
Queensland captain Smith overtook Lockyer when he ran out for game No.37, leading the Maroons to a gutsy 6-4 Origin I win over NSW on Wednesday night in Sydney.
There were no hard feelings from former Maroons captain Lockyer who congratulated Smith when the Maroons toasted their success at ANZ Stadium.
Smith, 32, has hinted at playing on for Queensland until 2018.
But Lockyer believes the pint-sized hooker has plenty more years – and an unprecedented amount of Origin games – left.
“I always envisaged that someone like Smithy would be the one to surpass 36,” Lockyer told AAP.
“And he will keep going for the next few years and get into the 40s.
“Because of the dynasty Queensland have created, his number of games won’t be repeated.
“When he finishes playing, Cam will be hard to beat.”
Lockyer started Queensland’s remarkable run of nine series wins in 10 years when he led them to a last-gasp victory with a famous game-three intercept try.
It snapped NSW’s run of three straight series wins and launched the Maroons’ dominance.
But Lockyer believed what Smith had achieved, filling his boots as Queensland captain, was more exceptional.
“To be in this arena for such a long time shows a lot of toughness, and mental toughness – and he has it in spades,” Lockyer said.
Smith admitted he tried to savour the occasion before running out in Origin I for his record game.
“It’s very special. I didn’t really think about the game – I just wanted to enjoy the occasion,” he said.
“I don’t usually think about milestones that happen along the way but I thought I would take a bit of time to think about this one – particularly because of the guy I was going past.”
Smith’s admiration was clear as he discussed the milestone with Lockyer – now working as a TV commentator – on the Nine Network at fulltime.
“I am very honoured to go past you,” Smith said.
“You were one of my heroes growing up, mate.
“I don’t mean to get sentimental or anything but I feel very lucky to have that milestone.”
Smith added later: “He (Lockyer) was a huge part of my career as a footballer and as a person.
“He started off as someone I wanted to be like as a footballer and a person I wanted to play alongside and I got that chance.
“I learned so much from him as a player but particularly how to be a leader.”