Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith is one of an elite group of Australians recognised in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List released overnight.
The NRL’s all-time games and points record holder and former Kangaroos and Queensland captain has been appointed as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia (General Division) for his services to rugby league and his charity work including being a National Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia and working with Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Storm Chief Executive Officer Dave Donaghy said Smith’s last accolade was richly deserved.
“Cameron’s on-field achievements are well documented, but outside of the playing field, his contribution to, and influence on, the sport of Rugby League extends further than the statistics,” Mr Donaghy said.
“Cameron’s character and leadership qualities are exemplified by his commitment to the Melbourne Storm as a one-club player and his contribution to growing the game in Victoria will long be remembered.
“He has contributed countless hours at community events and appearances at junior rugby league clubs to inspire the next generation of rugby league players in a state without historical connections to the game.
“Not only is he the NRL games record holder and likely to be the first – and perhaps only – player to ever reach the 400 game milestone in 2019, has the most premiership goals, most wins, most games as captain and has achieved a long list of other personal and club highlights and awards that reflect his outstanding career.
“Among his personal achievements Cameron has won the NRL’s most coveted individual award, the Dally M, twice in his career and represented his state and national team with distinction on almost 100 occasions, most as captain for both teams.
“The list of rugby league identities to be honoured with an AM is quite short and the list of players to be recognised in this way while still playing is even shorter, highlighting just how special Cameron’s record is.”
League historians believe two other Queensland greats, Wally Lewis in 1987 and Mal Meninga in 1994, are the only other previous appointments in the Order of Australia while still playing the game.
Smith’s good friend and former Test and Origin teammate Johnathan Thurston, who retired from the NRL last year, has also been appointed as an OAM in this year’s awards.
ARLC chairman Peter Beattie and NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg joined a chorus of well-wishers congratulating both Smith and Thurston.
“This is well-deserved recognition for Cameron and Johnathan – two of our most outstanding rugby league players of all time,” Mr Beattie said.
“Both players have done so much for the game of rugby league and for many communities throughout Australia, possessing leadership and compassionate qualities that have had a profound impact on many.
“I congratulate them on being named in this year’s Honours list.”
“Cameron and Johnathan have achieved everything in the game and have been wonderful ambassadors for rugby league from a young age,” Mr Greenberg added.
“Their individual on-field accolades may never be eclipsed and their recognition today as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List adds to a combined list of achievements that are as impressive as they are deserved.
“It’s only fitting that two mates that began their rugby league journeys together more than 25 years ago, have today been awarded one of the highest honours in Australia.”