Cameron Smith is the man NSW must stop in order to send the State of Origin series to a decider, Blues skipper Paul Gallen believes.
Queensland and Australia captain and hooker Smith was one of the Maroons’ best in their 11-10 game one win in Sydney last month.
And Gallen paid his rival leader a big compliment on the eve of Wednesday’s Origin II at the MCG.
“Cameron Smith is always the biggest danger. He is the best player in the game at the moment. He probably has been for a long time,” said Gallen.
“He controls the game in more ways than one. We just have to watch him.
“I respect him, he knows that, I respect all of them, but I don’t like them when the jerseys get thrown on tomorrow night.”
The respect is mutual, with Smith praising Gallen’s influence.
“”He’s their leader, he has got a lot of experience, but the biggest thing about Gal is his work rate,” Smith said.
“He takes a lot of pressure away from the other forwards in his team, comes up with 25-30 tackles every game coupled with close to 30 hit ups, and gets through a lot of work which takes a lot of heat off his teammates.”
NSW need to win to keep their defence of the State of Origin shield alive and Gallen said the match shaped as the biggest of his career.
“I say this every year ahead of Origin, it gets bigger and better every year so yeah this is the biggest game of my career,” Gallen said.
“It is going to be at a venue that is an iconic sporting ground of Australia, there are going to be 90,000 people there, hopefully the biggest audience on television, so it is going to be an amazing environment to play in.”