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Smith to hit half-century for Kangaroos

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/05/2017 Matt Coughlan

When Cameron Smith grew up idolising Darren Lockyer he never dreamed the two would be the only men to play 50 Tests for Australia.

He will join Lockyer, who represented his country 59 times, in one of rugby league's most exclusive clubs when he captains the Kangaroos in their clash with New Zealand in Canberra on Friday night.

"You ask any player that gets the opportunity to play in this jersey, it was a childhood dream," Smith said.

"It was something you wished you could do, but never thought it would happen.

"To come close to a guy that was one of my heroes growing up, Darren Lockyer, it's pretty special for me."

It will be the latest achievement in Smith's glittering career, less than a week after he surpassed Jason Taylor's premiership record by nailing his 943rd goal.

With 343 NRL games under his belt, only injury will stop him from breaking Lockyer's first-grade record of 355 this season.

But it's his appearance rather than his association with numbers which led to him being dubbed "The Accountant".

"I have a bit of a chuckle every time I hear that, because it's true," Smith said.

"But I pride myself on my resilience and making sure that I train hard and have myself physically and mentally prepared for every match I play, particularly the representative football."

Johnathan Thurston grew up alongside Smith and has taken pleasure in watching him develop into one of the game's great leaders.

"To be playing in the middle 80 minutes every week, all levels of the game for as long as he has is remarkable," he said.

While Thurston is happy to join the banter about Smith's slim build, he can't help but wish he could take on forwards like the Melbourne skipper.

"The big boys try to run straight over the top of him and he dominates a lot of them," Thurston said. "I wish I had that strength."

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