Written by John Davidson
Cameron Smith needs no introduction in the world of rugby league.
Australian captain, Queensland legend, Melbourne Storm hero – the 37-year-old hooker is considering by many to be the sport’s greatest of all-time. Our modern day GOAT.
So spare a thought for another player, with the exact same name, trying to carve his own path in professional rugby league. Cameron Smith, the Englishman from Pontefract, is a 22-year-old back-rower with Leeds Rhinos in Super League.
“My parents couldn’t have picked a better name could they?” the Leeds player joked to Everything Rugby League.
“Wow, what a player he is. I’d love to be able to finish in the game and have done what he’s done. But no I get asked this all the time, there’s a running joke where there’s only one Cameron Smith.
“It’s nice to share a name with him. I’d have loved to have played against him or share a field with him – that would have been interesting. But one day I could hopefully leave a little bit in the NRL – who knows?”
The Yorkshireman is a completely different style of player to the Australian legend, plays a different position and has different skills. But Smith is a decent player in his own right.
He debuted in Super League at the age of just 18. He has already represented England at both youth level and with the England Knights in 2019. He’s already racked up more than 50 appearances for the Rhinos, and is quickly becoming a key member of Richard Agar’s side.
The new 2⃣0⃣2⃣1⃣ @superleague fixtures are out now!
*Opening 2 rounds are behind closed doors at central venues
📺 First 6⃣ rounds free for members to watch on OurLeague
‼ All fixtures subject to change at this stage
— Leeds Rhinos (@leedsrhinos) February 26, 2021
A ball-playing lock in the mold of a Glenn Stewart or a Sean O’Loughlin, Smith has a lot going for him. The Castleford native has ambitions of breaking into the England squad for this year’s World Cup, and one of day mixing it with the best in the NRL.
“Maybe one day, yeah,” Smith said.
“Obviously at the minute I’m so privileged to be able to put on the Rhinos jersey. Long-term, I don’t really know.
“If an opportunity ever came up, and suited me and my family, yeah I’d love to have a crack as it’s put on a pedestal that it’s the greatest league in the world. But that’s extremely long-term, I’ve got to leave my mark on Super League yet.”
Despite his relative youth, Smith is becoming one of the more senior members at Headingley. Leeds are building a solid crop of youngsters ready to star in Super League in the years ahead.
“I’m 22 now but it seems like I’ve been around forever,” he admitted.
“But I’m looking at people now who are 17, 18 coming into the squad and it’s scary how good they are actually are coming through.
“It’s good that it keeps me, Mikolaj, Harry Newman, Jack Walker, all the young boys that have played a fair few games early on in their career, its good now we’re getting that mix back.
“It keeps us on our toes and makes sure we’re competing for a shirt.”
Last year Leeds surprised many by making it to the Challenge Cup final and winning the trophy. After the struggles and dramas of 2018 and 2019, and a revolving door of coaches, it was a return to form for one of England’s biggest clubs.
The target for 2021 is to continue that rise.
“Just to top last year, we want to get better every year,” Smith said.
“Obviously we want to defend the Challenge Cup and just make sure we’re in that top four, if not the top of the league. The way the season ended last year we didn’t end on our terms.
“We got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs against Catalans and that really hit us hard. We came off the back of a really good Challenge Cup win and wanted to push on and get in that grand final.
“So our goals for this year are make sure we’re in that top four and competing for a grand final spot, and hopefully retain the Challenge Cup and play at Wembley again.”
Cameron Smith – remember the name.
Not just the forward from Brisvegas with the accountant-like body who was Craig Bellamy’s right-hand man for 19 seasons. But the 22-year-old from west Yorkshire who wears blue and amber with a bright future ahead of him.