It's no secret an injury and leadership crisis has hit the Maroons in the lead-up to this year's Origin series and Queensland legend Cameron Smith is the name everyone is looking to as a saviour.
I know Cameron announced his retirement ahead of last year's series and he's on record since then saying he is happy for the next generation to take over and no longer has the desire to compete at that level.
But the situation Queensland find themselves in three weeks out from game one squads being named is completely unforeseen.
Probably hooker Jake Friend is out for months with a biceps rupture, incumbent Andrew McCullough looks like he may have been struck down by a knee injury at training, likely halfback and captain Daly Cherry-Evans is long odds of playing due to a syndesmosis injury and there is a serious lack of depth in the outside backs which may force Michael Morgan into the centres.
The thing about Cameron Smith is that he's never been one to do things for Cameron Smith – it's always been about doing the right thing for his team and no-one could have foreseen the situation his beloved Queensland would have found themselves in even as recently as a month ago.
Realistically, if he had not retired from Origin he would have been the first player picked this year anyway and if he came back for one more series he could solve a lot of short-term problems for them. They have a lot of holes someone like him can really fill – not just at hooker but also as an extra playmaker, a leader, and even a top-line goal-kicker. It also gives them more flexibility around who to put where from their remaining playmakers.
Watching him play this year, he is still an Origin player.
The point when you stop being an Origin player is when you can no longer do the things you used to do, you're not performing how you were in the past, or your week-to-week club form is not at the level is used to be.
The reality is, Cameron is still the best player in the competition and he is the best Queensland-eligible player in his position by an absolute country mile. He's playing as well as he ever has.
He originally retired from Origin because of the huge mental and physical toll it takes out of you every year but Cameron has always been the one to put his hand up for the greater good and if Queensland send him an SOS – which they would be mad not to – how do you say no to that?
Yes he gave everything to Queensland and he left them in a really good place. But all those plans have gone out the window with the injuries this year. It's like being a parent, you've raised your child to be independent and they have finished high school and gone off to university and they're finding their own way in the world but they run into some bad luck, fall into a pot hole and need some help getting back on their feet. They call mum and dad to lend a hand and get them out of it – do you then just say 'no, sorry, I've done my best and now you're on your own' or do you do the best you can to help them through it?
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 1 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
- Nine Network
There are precedents for this sort of thing. We saw Alfie Langer famously come back for the 2001 decider from England to spoil Brad Fittler's Origin farewell, then Freddie made his own memorable comeback to save the Blues in 2004 and Andrew Johns did the same in 2005.
Having played in those 2004 and 2005 series, just the amount of confidence we as players drew from two of Origin's greatest players in those two series, it's hard to describe how much of a lift we got just from the moment Freddie and Joey walked into camp. That is exactly what Queensland need now.
For all those reasons it would make for such a great story, creating another chapter in the famous Origin folklore.
Queensland are a completely different side with him in it – just the confidence he would inspire, his experience and ability to control a game and dictate the way they would want to play.
If there's one position the Blues have a serious advantage it's the outside backs with so much speed and power from the likes of Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and James Tedesco.
For Queensland to win they need to play a specific forward-oriented game, make the Blues work it out of their corners and not give those powerful backs too much time and space. That would be huge for Queensland because if they allow NSW to dictate the terms of the game they will be out-gunned.
They can draw on all the Queensland spirit they want, and it worked for them in 1995 when they were missing so many great players due to Super League, but they still need one or two key players to pull it together for them over the course of three games. Who do they build their team and game plan around, and how do they dictate what style of footy they want to play?
My personal apologies to Cameron Smith for adding to the pressure on him to make a comeback – but all signs point to a return of the G.O.A.T!