Slater ruled out of Origin Game I, Boyd could replace him as Maroons fullback

Queensland veteran Billy Slater is out of the opening State of Origin clash at the MCG after picking up a hamstring injury in training.

Key points:

  • Slater was officially given green light for Origin I, but reports on Monday said a hamstring complaint had cost him
  • Darius Boyd expected to be recalled to squad to replace Slater
  • Valentine Holmes will be Maroons' new goal kicker, Greg Inglis to skipper the side

After announcing 2018 would be his last-ever Origin series, Maroons star Slater will now miss the opening game in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

"I didn't pull up as well as I would have liked after our training run on Sunday, and because I'm not 100 per cent, it's in my best interests as well as the team's to withdraw from Wednesday's game," Slater said in a statement.

Slater failed a fitness test, meaning a possible return for Brisbane veteran Darius Boyd to wear the number one jersey.

His withdrawal came after he was given the green light by Queensland coach Kevin Walters, who said every player was still available to him.

But via a statement he confirmed Slater was ruled out.

"We knew we had some concerns with Billy, but he's a champion player and we needed to give him every chance to play," Walters said.

"We've had plans in place to cover Billy if he didn't come up right, and we've actioned that today with Anthony and Kalyn coming in."

It is a huge blow for the Maroons who are already without retired greats Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.

Half-back Ben Hunt (thigh) and lock Josh McGuire (ankle) were their other injury concerns.

Boyd could be recalled to the side to wear the number one jersey in place of Slater.

Michael Morgan — currently on the bench as Queensland's utility — is another full-back option while Newcastle rookie Kalyn Ponga may also be in the mix.

Ponga and Anthony Milford have been flown to Melbourne to link up with the Maroons squad.

Greg Inglis looks on despondently in Origin II

Meanwhile, Walters confirmed Cronulla flyer Valentine Holmes would be the Maroons' new goal kicker in Origin I.

Dane Gagai and Cameron Munster were options but Walters said Holmes had impressed most after a kick-off at training.

"We expect Val to be kicking for us. He is not kicking in clubland but always practising," he said.

Walters got emotional when speaking about Greg Inglis taking over the captaincy as Queensland begin a new era.

"I know how Greg will play. He will lead from the front. If he can do that I will be really confident sitting in the coach's box," he said.

"I would not want anyone else but Greg right now in the situation we have found ourselves in."

Inglis — ahead of his 31st Origin game — admitted he didn't know what he would say to his troops before kick-off but was confident of leading by example.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for myself. I started my career down here when I moved to the [Melbourne] Storm at 16," he said.

"To be back here and leading the Maroons, it is ironic but I will put the team first."

Inglis becomes Queensland's 13th captain and third Indigenous Maroons leader after taking over from 42 Origin great Smith.


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