Rugby league legends recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

James Gordon

Australia and Queensland legends Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston have been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

The duo have been appointed as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia (General Division) for services to rugby league.

Australia rugby league chairman, Peter Beattie, said: “This is well-deserved recognition for Cameron and Johnathan – two of our most outstanding rugby league players of all time.

“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.”

Rugby league recognition on the honours list is often sparse, though Bradford-co owner, Kiwi Graham Lowe, was also knighted in the list announced last week.

Smith’s achievement in particular, given he is still playing the game, is extraordinary. He is involved in a number of charities, including being a National Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia and working with Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

Melbourne Storm chief executive, Dave Donaghy, told the club’s official website: “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.

“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.

“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.”

Smith is due to reach 400 games for Melbourne on his next appearance, and is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

He is a two-time Dally M Medal winner, won the Golden Boot twice and is the highest points scorer in NRL history.

The hooker played 56 times for Australia and 42 times for Queensland before retiring from representative rugby league in 2018.

Thurston, who retired at the end of last season, is a four-time Dally M Medal and three-time Golden Boot winner.

He made more than 300 NRL appearances, mainly for North Queensland Cowboys, and won 38 caps for Australia and 37 for Queensland.