How Billy put Queensland intertests first
BILLY Slater admits he couldn't put Queensland's hopes at risk after making the gut-wrenching call to withdraw from the Maroons side for Origin I due to a hamstring injury.
The Maroons are in disarray ahead of the series opener on Wednesday night with Kalyn Ponga and Anthony Milford flying into Melbourne on Monday as Queensland mull over their fullback options for the MCG clash.
Slater was set to celebrate his 30th game for the Maroons and join the elite Stateman's Club, but the champion custodian pulled the pin Monday morning after pulling up sore from a training session.
"I'm extremely disappointed," he said.
"It wasn't until mid-to-late morning that I caught up with the physio and doctor.
"I didn't pull up as well as I wanted to from training.
"I've never had a hamstring injury before so I don't have anything to measure it off. I went on the recommendation on the physio and the doctor and what was best for the team as well.
"You don't want to miss out on any Origin game. I've made the mistake of playing while injured in the past and I certainly regret that.
"I wanted to make the right decision this time."
Slater admits there is no guarantee he will be fit for Origin II. The Maroons veteran believed he was capable of getting through Origin I, but took on board the advice of medicos - prompting him to inform Queensland players on the team bus this afternoon of his withdrawal.
"It was definitely [Monday]," he said.
"I pulled up a bit tight from training but nothing too alarming, I wanted to see how it felt this morning and unfortunately we came up with the decision that it was best for me to pull out.
"It's a tricky one because I don't feel overly injured, there is a bit of tightness, it is slightly sore but it's not a big strain. It's in a position where if I do go out and play and (injure) it properly I could be out for a period of time.
"I have played with pain before but it's more the repercussions of playing with this strain.
"If I pulled up sore from a 40-minute training session, in an 80-minute Origin who knows what will happen.
"The last thing I want to do is go out there and 20 minutes in I have to come off and sit on the sideline and leave us down to 16 men."