Slater unfazed by record


BRISBANE: Inspired by the memory of Arthur Beetson’s famous State of Origin debut, new Queensland coach Billy Slater insists his team won’t carry the burden of a woeful recent record in Sydney.
Having not won at Accor Stadium since Slater was still playing in 2017, the Maroons are trying to take a giant step towards giving him a one-from-one record in tomorrow night’s opener.
It will be the first time the Blues’ spiritual home has been at capacity since James Tedesco’s last-minute series-winning try in 2019, and the Maroons have never beaten the Blues in Sydney since Brad Fittler took over in 2018.
Johnathan Thurston kicked a second-half conversion from near the sideline with a busted shoulder in the second game of the 2017 series to seal their last win in Sydney.
Told they had a troubling record at Accor Stadium since the representative retirements of Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Thurston, Slater said: “You said it was the case.
Maybe it’s not.
“It’s a different environment to playing in Queensland.
“They (Blues) only get 17 players. They don’t get more players.
“We get 17 and at the end of the day, the actions on the field are the most important part of the week.
“It doesn’t matter what we say here, how you perform is the ultimate priority.”
Slater has picked four Origin rookies — Selwyn Cobbo, Reuben Cotter, Jeremiah Nanai and Patrick Carrigan — all from the high-flying Broncos and Cowboys.
But his team selections have been overshadowed by the furore of New South Wales leaving out veterans Josh Addo-Carr and Jake Trbojevic for game one.
The Blues had harboured concerns about the height of their wingers from last year’s series, Addo-Carr and Brian To’o, under aerial bombardments from Queensland’s kickers, and plumped for the giant Daniel Tupou, who will help them with yardage on kick returns.
Asked if he thought it was strange that Fittler had seemingly picked a side to counter Queensland’s lineup given the Blues’ recent dominance, Slater said: “.
I don’t know whether he’s come out and said that.
“But Freddy has picked his best team.
They’re a bloody good team.
“We’re very respectful for who we’re playing and we know their strengths.
“Although they haven’t got Tom (Trbojevic) and Latrell (Mitchell), I see different strengths in the players who have come into those positions.
“By no means have we looked at them any different to how we would have looked at them if they had the Fox (Addo-Carr), Latrell and Tom in there.”