Darren Smith (rugby league)
8 December 1968 |
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
|Height||183 cm (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||102 kg (16 st 1 lb)|
|Position||Centre, Lock, Second-row|
|Source: , RLP and Yesterday's Hero|
Darren Smith (born 8 December 1968 in Brisbane, Queensland) is an Australian former rugby league footballer of the 1990s and 2000s. He played for the Australian national side and also Queensland in the State of Origin. His club football career was spent with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Brisbane Broncos and St. Helens. He is the brother of fellow Maroon and international, Jason Smith.
Smith came to Canterbury from Brisbane's Easts Tigers in 1990. He represented Combined Brisbane against Great Britain as a 20-year-old in 1988 and made his State of Origin debut as a reserve for Queensland in the 1992 series.
Conspicuous in headgear after suffering severe concussion in 1991, Smith looked certain to press for Australian selection until off-field politics took its toll in 1994 NSWRL season. His refusal to renew his contract with Canterbury, negotiating with two Brisbane clubs instead, saw him used in the limited role of interchange player. Smith's place in Canterbury's grand final side was taken by youngster Steven Hughes and he made little impact when brought on to the field as a replacement. Smith revealed that he had signed with the South Queensland Crushers but he then did an about-face and successfully sought a release to play with the Brisbane Broncos in 1995.
It was unfortunate that Smith hit possibly his best form at a time when the code was in turmoil, and he did not represent again until 1997's Super League season. He proved his durability at the highest level, making his Test debut against New Zealand and playing in all five Tests against the kiwis and Great Britain as well as making three appearances in Queensland's Tri-Series side.
When the game reunified for the 1998 NRL season, Smith returned to the Queensland State of Origin team and was the National Rugby League's top try-scorer for the season, crossing for the final try in Brisbane's 38–12 thrashing of his former club Canterbury in the 1998 NRL grand final. In an ironic twist to his career, Smith announced that he was returning to the Bulldogs in 1999. Smith was selected for the Australian team to compete in the end of season 1999 Tri Nations tournament. In the final against New Zealand he played at centre in the Kangaroos' 22–20 victory.
In 2000 he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australia's international standing in rugby league. Smith left the Bulldogs at the end of 2002 (denied the opportunity to finally win a premiership with the club when it was stripped of its competition points) to play with English club St Helens RLFC. Having won Super League VI, St Helens contested the 2003 World Club Challenge against 2002 NRL Premiers, the Sydney Roosters. Smith played at second-row forward in Saints' 38–0 loss. At the end of his first English season Smith was unexpectedly called into the Third Test of the Ashes series (despite being 35 years old and outside the NRL) by his former Bulldogs coach, national coach Chris Anderson, who felt the available 2003 Kangaroo centres were not experienced enough.
Smith returned to Australia in 2004 and made cameo appearances with the Broncos in two matches while playing for his former club, Eastern Suburbs Tigers. At age 36 years and 284 days, he was the NRL's oldest player in 2005. Smith finally retired as a player after Easts was beaten in the grand final. At the time of his retirement Smith held the record for most tries in a season for the Broncos (together with Steve Renouf) at 23.
- Darren Smith at stateoforigin.com.au
- Darren Smith at bulldogs.com.au
- Saints Heritage Society profile