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Smith starts season

Saturday, March 03, 2018

FIRE up - the countdown to the 2018 National Rugby League (NRL) season is on.

It is days to kick-off with the St George Illawarra Dragons hosting the Brisbane Broncos at UOW Jubilee Stadium next Thursday night.

Captains and representatives of all 16 NRL clubs gathered in Sydney on Thursday to officially launch the upcoming campaign.

Melbourne Storm's premiership-winning skipper Cameron Smith officially launched the 2018 NRL season in front of a crowd of fans at Circular Quay.

"In a week's time we become combatants on the field," Smith said.

"But in the 25 rounds that lie ahead we will share some of the same highs, the same lows, and the same hopes of lifting the premiership trophy on September 30.

"And we will share them all with you, the fans. Whether you are on the field or in the stands we all share the passion, the pride and the enjoyment the game brings.

"As players we are motivated each week by the love for our club, the fans who ride the journey with us and our families who sacrifice so much. Ultimately we are all in this together."

Smith was joined by the likes of Cowboys superstar Johnathan Thurston, Newcastle's star recruit Mitchell Pearce, new Sharks leader Wade Graham and Jake Friend, captain of 2018 premiership favourites Sydney Roosters.

Thurston, who will rack up his 300th NRL game when North Queensland hosts Cronulla next Friday night, is raring to go in what will be his final season.

"For me it's about enjoying it and having fun, knowing it's my last year," Thurston said.

"It's quite easy to get up for training and go to work."

Pearce, who joined the Knights after leaving the Roosters at the end of 2017, said he was "really excited" about the season ahead.

"It's obviously been a big change over the off-season but I've fitted in really well up there, love the culture. It's a great group of boys, hopefully we can do some good things."

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