SLATER DESPERATE TO RETURN
BILLY Slater is confident his Origin career is not over, with the champion Maroons fullback vowing to do everything possible to help Queensland save the series in Game Two.
A late scratching for Origin I due to a hamstring injury, Slater sat in the Maroons’ sheds with a heavy heart as he rued being reduced to a spectator in their 22-12 defeat at the MCG on Wednesday night.
Slater has another 16 days to prove his fitness for Origin II and while he won’t face the Broncos on Sunday in Melbourne, he is on track to return to the Queensland No.1 jumper at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
“I’d like to think I will be there for Origin II,” Slater said. “My rehab won’t be an issue. Sitting here now I don’t feel injured, which is frustrating, but at the end of the day I could only be guided by the doctors as I’ve never had a hamstring injury before. “The physios are saying it’s only a small tear in my hamstring, I’ve just got to get through my stages without pushing the boundaries too much.
“Hopefully it won’t take too long. I’m still hopeful of playing the Newcastle Knights in a week-and-a-half and if that doesn’t happen, well the next time I take the field I want to be 100 per cent.
“I don’t care about the numbers of games I play anymore, I just want to get back out there and help Queensland save this series.” A veteran of 29 Origin games, Slater will join Queensland’s iconic 30-game Statesman’s Club if he gets the green light for the return bout against NSW on June 24.
While Michael Morgan did a fine job as Slater’s replacement, Queensland coach Kevin Walters is sweating on the return of the Maroons’ greatest fullback in Origin history.
“I’m hoping Billy will be OK,” Walters said. “Michael Morgan was very good at the back but there is only one Billy Slater and we need him back.” Walters also indicated Cowboys enforcer Matt Scott would be recalled to inject some mongrel into the Maroons forward pack .
Just a fortnight ago Scott’s 22-game Origin career appeared to be in tatters after he was a left out of the team for the opening game but Walters said he was likely to be rushed in after starting props Dylan Napa and Jarrod Wallace were mauled by their Blues rivals.
“We’ll certainly be looking at Matt
Scott,” Walters said. “I have always been a fan of Matt Scott and his performances over the next few weeks for the Cowboys will be really important for what we are trying to achieve in Game Two. “Our midfield wasn’t good enough.”
Maroons great, Billy Slate, aiming to prove his Origin career is not over.