CAMERON SMITH is ready to step into the shoes of Darren Lockyer, the legendary Australia captain who enjoyed a fairytale finish to his 17-year career in Saturday night’s Gillette Four Nations final in Leeds.
The 34-year-old officially hung up his boots after scoring the last of his side’s five tries in a 30-8 rout of England at Elland Road and taking his final tally of caps to a world record 59.
Although the Australians do not have an official vice-captain, Smith has deputised regularly in the absence of Lockyer, most recently against Wales in Wrexham seven days ago, and is widely expected to get the nod to take on the skipper’s role on a permanent basis in 2012.
“If I’m given the job, I’d be delighted,” said the Melbourne Storm hooker and captain.
“There are a lot of guys in there that could fill the role of captain of this team.
“I’d be very proud to have the ‘c’ next to my name. If I can do the job as well as Darren, I’d be very happy with that.”
Lockyer wrapped up the scoring after winning the race to his own grubber kick, which bounced back off a post, but then surprisingly fluffed the simple goal kick.
Smith, who revealed afterwards that the Kangaroos players were inspired by a video of clips of their record-breaking captain’s career, could not hide his delight at the fitting outcome.
“It was just like fate, wasn’t it, the ball ricocheting off the post,” Smith said. “It was very fitting – it would have been nice if he’d kicked the goal as well. That was one of the worst kicks I’ve ever seen from him.
“I know all the boys are very happy for Darren. We didn’t speak about it all week until tonight when we watched a bit of vision of him playing for Australia when he had a bit of hair and you could actually hear him when he spoke.Everyone knew what this occasion meant to him.”