League: Smith's plans are bad news for Kiwis

Veteran skipper Cameron Smith is leaving the door open to playing on for Australia beyond next year's Rugby League World Cup and possibly becoming the country's most-capped player.

Preparing for his 49th appearance in the green and gold on Monday morning (NZT) against New Zealand in the Four Nations final - 10 behind Darren Lockyer's record - Smith says his fitness and passion for the game are as strong as they've ever been.

With the World Cup in Australia 11 months away, there's a real possibility that a core group of Kangaroos players, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott and Greg Inglis, who'll all be over 30, could join Johnathan Thurston in heading into representative retirement after that tournament.

Smith admits he's unlikely to play again in England after the Four Nations decider at Anfield, but he sounds bullish about going on for Australia beyond the World Cup.
"I think I'll just carry on playing," Smith said. "I haven't really looked to the future and put an end date on my representative career.

It's a huge year next year, having a World Cup on home soil.

"I want to give myself every opportunity to be involved in that and after that tournament's finished there's a whole off season to think about continuing on the following year.

"I'm still contracted to the Storm in 2018. I'll probably think about that after next year.

"I am sort of doing the opposite to other players, I am as fit and as strong as I have ever been. Probably because I look after myself a bit better now. I eat a fair bit less junk food. Physically I feel great and mentally I am enjoying the game as much as at any other time in my career."

Despite being on his fourth Kangaroos tour of the UK, Smith said he feels as pumped as he did ahead of his first in 2009 when he scored a late try to earn a 20-20 draw with New Zealand in the opening match - the only match on English soil he's not tasted victory in.

"I'm still excited to get a jersey and have my name read out at the start of each week when Mal names the team," he said. "It's a bit more difficult now because I've got three young kids and my wife at home and it's hard to leave those guys for six weeks.

"I love spending time with my family. But as far as playing and being around the team and playing in great stadiums and having victories, it's still as enjoyable as when I debuted back in 2006."

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