Smith could be Origin ace for Maroons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Smith could be Origin ace for Maroons

By Wayne Heming 17/12/2009 12:13:22 PM Comments (0)

Former troubled Parramatta star Tim Smith could be Queensland's State of Origin ace should they lose champion halves Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston in quick succession.

Lockyer, 33 next March, is weighing up his representative future following 30 Origin games and a decade of service, with an announcement pending.

Thurston rocked the establishment this week by declaring a switch to rugby union was not out of the question in 2011 with a million-dollar lure to jump codes.

The pair have been the brains behind Queensland's record four straight Origin series wins against NSW since 2006.

But it's not a bleak scenario for the Maroons.

Gold Coast halfback Scott Prince, who has already played five Origins and four Tests, and Melbourne's premiership-winning Cooper Cronk, who made his debut for Australia in this year's Four Nations, are ready to fill any gaps.

But Smith could be the wildcard after cutting short his European Super League contract with Wigan to return to Australian to give the NRL another crack.

Following a number of off-field incidents - the latest when he was drunk in public in 2007 - which put the young halfback in the headlines, Smith walked out on Parramatta and the NRL three games into the 2008 NRL season.

He was suffering from bipolar disorder and needed time to himself.

After producing a number of man-of-the-match performances for Wigan last year, he headed home after a shoulder injury wrecked his season.

He has been training full throttle with Brisbane for a month and impressing everyone, including coach Ivan Henjak.

Under a dual registered player agreement approved by the NRL, Smith can move between Brisbane Easts and the Broncos in 2010.

"I've been really impressed with Tim, he's matured, and he could have a lot to offer us," Henjak told AAP on Wednesday.

Brisbane Easts chairman Des Morris, who arranged the deal with Smith, is also Queensland's chairman of selectors.

He wouldn't be drawn on Smith's Origin claims just yet, but said the 24-year-old was doing everything right.

"He's going really well and he is training with Easts one or two days a week," Morris told AAP.

"I hope we hand him over (to the Broncos) a fair bit because we want to see him get another opportunity.

"He's matured a lot, the coaches here are impressed and the payers are impressed with his attitude and he's certainly been no trouble."

Morris said the events of the past few years had probably done Smith "the world of good".

"It's given him time to see what he is missing out on," said Morris.

"He was 16 or 17 when he first went down to Parramatta and that's not always as easy to deal with as it looks."

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