Saturday, July 20, 2024

‘Angry dad’ Slater whacks team after ’embarrassing’ loss

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Billy Slater had no option but to deliver some home truths to the Maroons this week, with their “embarrassing” game two loss blowing the State of Origin series wide open.

After a dominant display in the opener, Queensland were blown off the park by NSW in their last outing, forcing a decider at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday night.

With players arriving into camp this week, Slater sat down with the Maroons squad and according to veteran hooker Ben Hunt, the video session wasn’t a pretty one.

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“We had a look at the Melbourne game and it was definitely a tough watch,” he said.

“Billy definitely had some real honest conversations with a fair few of us – I don’t think there were too many guys in that game who can say they played a good game of footy.

Billy Slater addressed his decision not to add David Fifita to his Maroons squad for the State of Origin decider in Brisbane. Nine

“There were definitely some embarrassing moments. In that first half, there were some real poor defensive errors and things we did to ourselves.

“It was a tough video session, but it was one that we needed.”

While many see the smiling and jovial Slater in the media or at press conferences in Queensland camp, the players witnessed a different side of the legendary fullback.

Watch the 2024 State of Origin series exclusively live and free on Nine and 9Now.

“It was kind of like the angry dad, he was a bit disappointed in us,” Hunt explained.

“We had a real good honest video session and he pointed a few things out that he wasn’t happy with. I don’t want my coach to dance around the hard conversations.

“I want to know where we stand and Billy is one of those – he definitely pointed out a lot of things that went wrong and made guys be accountable.”

Slater and the selectors were forced to make a couple of changes out wide for game three after injuries to Murray Taulagi and Xavier Coates, while the Maroons have also recalled Knights superstar Kalyn Ponga for the must-win encounter.

Ben Hunt of Queensland celebrates after scoring the match-winning try in 2022.  Getty

While their backs may be against the wall and the Blues are full of confidence, Hunt pointed out the fact that Queensland faced a similar situation two years ago, which ultimately ended with him scoring a series-deciding long-range try.

“It was definitely a pretty bad defeat down in Melbourne,” he said.

“It’s something that we are looking at and looking to improve, but we were there in 2022 – we had a pretty bad loss and came to Brisbane and won in a tight game.

“I think it’s gonna be like that come Wednesday night, it’s gonna be a real tight battle and it’s gonna be a tough game and one that both teams are gonna be up for.

“We need to draw on everything we can and embrace the crowd at Suncorp and go out and get a win.”

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