Queensland captain Cameron Smith says thoughts of retirement arose as early as last year's Origin series, citing a mentally and physically draining 2017 campaign as one of the main reasons for his shock decision.
Smith counts seven Origin man-of-the-match awards to his name, with only Wally Lewis (8) earning more across a career.
"I thought his performance in Game 3 of a year ago was one of the best I have seen from anyone at that level, and at 34 that speaks volumes", Walters said.
Smith, 34, is the most-capped State of Origin player in history, as well as the most successful racking up 11 series wins with the dominant Queensland side.
"It's been a fairly lengthy process for me to come to this decision", Smith said.
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"Right now, this year is the right time to finish up".
Smith played 56 games for Australia and has won a Tri-Nations series, five Four Nations tournaments and three World Cups.
Smith's exit coincides with the representative retirements of Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, which were announced at the end of a year ago.
"I probably started having small thoughts about finishing up my representative career a year ago".
At 34 years of age, Smith led Melbourne to a second premiership following a memorable comeback series win, later taking his country to glory in a jam-packed season.
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"I'd like to think it will give me the opportunity to play on in our domestic competition if it is the right thing for my family and the Melbourne Storm as well".
Queensland coach Kevin Walters said it would there was no replacement who could fill all of Smith's roles.
"... I know he's been a great player, but most importantly a person for the game more than anything else".
Walters said it was fitting Smith's final Origin appearance in 2017 was one to remember.
"I just didn't get the same vibe that I've had over the last couple of years with him, with his enthusiasm and drive", Walters said.
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Smith's decision is likely to springboard Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough into contention for a Queensland debut, while Jake Granville of the Cowboys could be another option.