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Billy Slater key to Queensland’s Origin chances

Posted on 15/03 by Joe Gann

Billy Slater key to Queensland’s Origin chances
Billy Slater's decision to play on for the Maroons is a big boost following the retirements of Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston

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After sitting out the opening round of the new season, Billy Slater is set to make his 300th career appearance against the Tigers at AAMI Park this weekend, making him just the third player in club history to do so. Having overcome some major injuries throughout his 17-year career, including two shoulder reconstructions, to reach the triple century milestone is an astounding achievement.

The legendary full-back has described it as ‘more than likely’ that 2018 will be his final season in the game and he will be desperate to go out on a high following his extraordinary comeback for a career-threatening injury last year. He has already made steps towards a coaching role behind the scenes at Melbourne Storm and is credited with playing an important part in the club’s recruitment of Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Curtis Scott.

2018 will probably be his final hurrah in the Queensland colours and brings down the curtain on a stellar career in Origin that has seen him make 29 appearances for the Maroons as well as the 2010 Wally Lewis Medal.

After being controversially snubbed for game one last year, his reinstatement for the second match of the series helped revive the Maroons' fortunes as they wrapped up the series 2-1. With the retirement of Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk from Origin involvement, the retention of Slater and Cameron Smith is crucial to the spine of the team. With the relative inexperienced Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans, Michael Morgan, Ash Taylor, Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford all battling it out for a spot in the halves, the presence of veterans Smith and Slater will be invaluable for coach Kevin Walters.

Despite winning the 11 of the last 12 series, the Queenslanders face a new threat to their era of dominance in the shape of a revved up New South Wales outfit under the tutelage of new coach Brad Fittler who begin the year as favourites.

Queensland are $2.15 to win the 2018 State of Origin series

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