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Football is in Queensland Rugby League Emerging Origin squad member Bud Smith’s blood.

The 18-year-old’s dad Jason Smith signed with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs as a young gun – exactly what Smith has done - and played 16 State of Origin games for the Queensland Maroons.

Smith said his dad was his biggest role model and helped drive him to excel.

“Dad is one of the biggest people I’ve looked up to in terms of footy. I’ve grown up with everyone talking about him everywhere we went. Everyone always said, ‘if you have half the career he does, you’re doing pretty well’,” Smith said.

“He’s definitely someone I've looked up to and I’ve learned a lot from him in terms of footy and life as well. He’s been a great role model and definitely the reason I sort of started it all.

“I looked up to JT (Johnathan Thurston) growing up too… just his competitiveness and I was always a big Cowboys fan and supporter. The way he did everything off the field and on the field, he was just sort of the person you'd look up to as a complete role model and complete person.

“He was probably the biggest inspiration for me growing up (outside of dad). Definitely look up to him.”

Smith said footy for him started in Toowoomba.

“I played at Toowoomba Brothers. Started when I was five, played all my juniors there, then played for the Western Clydesdales last year… started the year in the Mal Meninga comp then pushed up after that into the Colts and played every game apart from one,” Smith said.

“They’ve partnered with the Bulldogs so that opened a bit of a pathway for me to move down to Sydney. I'm loving it so far.”

The Toowoomba Grammar graduate, who was part of the Queensland Under 17 Country side in 2022, said his dad’s biggest advice was to “stay positive and have fun”.

“Usually when you have fun, you’re probably winning… but he said just to enjoy it so I don’t lose the love for the game… really simple stuff,” Smith said.

The talented lock said it was an honour to be part of the Emerging Origin squad.

“I was lucky enough to be picked in the Under 18 Emerging Origin squad last year, where we had a training camp, and I thought I had a pretty decent year last year… I know I wasn’t 100 per cent to be in the squad this year, so it’s an honour to be picked again,” Smith said.

“It’s an honour to be picked for anything Queensland… who else would you want to represent? The history behind it, the jersey… it’s what you want to play for. I’ve grown up aspiring to play for the Maroons. It would be an absolute honour and privilege to pull on the jersey one day.”

Smith said his experience playing in the Queensland Under 17 Country side was excellent and he wanted more.

“It was great… it was my first camp around the boys and then you play together… it was definitely a bit of an eye opener and something that you want to strive to keep doing and getting those opportunities.

“For sure it was one of the best experiences in footy I've had and I learned heaps off Antonio Kaufusi. Matty Ballin was there too, in and around assisting… those two together teach you so much about being a Queenslander, but they also spoke about being from the country.

“It was great.”

Smith said living in Sydney was a big change to living in Toowoomba but he enjoyed being closer to the beach.

“I’m loving that, but it’s definitely a different lifestyle for me… moving away from my family was pretty tough because I'm pretty close with all my family. But it's a great opportunity down there and the Bulldogs have a great support system in place.

“I'm living with 10 of my best mates, so I'm loving it.

“Pre-season has been tough. Toughest pre-season I’ve ever had in my life. They’ve definitely been pushing us… it’s a big step up, moving to the Bulldogs, so it’s about getting pre-season right and then making sure you’re fit and ready for Round 1.

“It’s the toughest time of my life physically and mentally but I’m enjoying the challenge.”

Smith said he was keen for a big 2024 in the SG Ball competition in New South Wales but was “taking it one step at a time at the moment”, noting one of his biggest goals was to make the Queensland Under 19 side that will play New South Wales on June 20.

Match: NSW U19s v QLD U19s

Round 1 -

NSW U19s

home Team

NSW U19s

QLD U19s

away Team

QLD U19s

Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network
  • Nine Now
  • Kayo
  • Foxtel

“It’s the goal I want to achieve… being picked in the squad is obviously a great privilege but I know that I have to keep playing good footy and perform and just hope that they select me… but I'm just going to try and give it my all and put my best foot forward and hope for the best,” Smith said.

QRL pathways and performance head coach Nathan Cross said Smith was “the type of player that everyone wants in their team”.

“He is a humble country kid with a high work ethic and a big motor who does all the little things that often go unnoticed by most people, but not his coaches or teammates,” Cross said.

“I’m expecting Bud to have a big impact at the Bulldogs this year and be in the frame for selection for our Queensland Under 19s in June.” 

Hero photo: Nev Madsen

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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