Sport Slater to walk before Origin III: Gould

12:06  16 may  2018
12:06  16 may  2018 Source:   wwos.ninemsn.com.au

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Gould said the red-hot form of Newcastle rising star Kalyn Ponga will make it an easy decision for Slater to walk away from State of Origin knowing his Maroons jersey is in good hands. Gould said Slater could even make the decision before Origin Game 1.

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a hand holding a football ball© Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Former Blues coach and Nine commentator Phil Gould believes Billy Slater will retire from representative football before the end of the 2018 State Origin series due to the hot form of young gun Kalyn Ponga.

The Newcastle fullback has been electrifying in attack during the opening ten weeks of the competition and his form will be hard to ignore for Queensland coach Kevin Walters.

Speaking on Six Tackles with Gus, the Penrith GM said it would not be long until Slater follows Cameron Smith into representative retirement ending an era which has seen other champion Maroons players like Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk also call it quits.

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Fallout continues from Billy Slater controversy in Origin III . Queensland won game three in Brisbane 18-12 and fans felt sentiment had outweighed logic, accusing selectors of handing Slater the honour purely because it was his last Origin match before retiring from representative football.

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Gould declared Ponga will be picked at fullback for Queensland during the 2018 series which suggests Slater’s days are numbered regardless of how well the Maroons are playing.

The former champion coach is adamant that Ponga is playing better football than Slater and the youngster’s boot will prove to be valuable since Queensland won’t have Smith rely to on.

“Billy Slater at some stage through this series will hand over the reigns to Kalyn Ponga,” Gould said.

“Kalyn Ponga will play Origin this year. Billy Slater will see that and hand it on to him.”

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Gould : Griffin failed to work with staff. Jarryd Hayne misses a tackle on Billy Slater Matt King/Getty Images. Slater underwent light duties with the team before what might well be his last Origin for Queensland.

Smith had a special message for Slater ahead of Origin III . While keen to end any feud rumours, Slater admitted he did not seek out advice from Smith before taking over Queensland reins for the “I have thought about walking out of the tunnel (for the last time) and what I will be feeling,” Slater said.

Gould even stoked speculation that the champion fullback may even call it quits before the start of this year’s interstate series.

“Whether he does that straight away, I don’t know,” he said.

“Cameron Smith’s decision might influence Billy as far as this series is concerned. They’re both at the same stage of their careers.

“If Billy plays, I still think at some stage this series he will hand over to Kalyn Ponga.”

“Billy Slater is the greatest fullback I have ever seen. Ever. I have never seen a fullback do what he does on the field. Not just the stuff you got to see but the stuff that could have happened because he was always in the area and the amount of ground he covers.

“But right now, today, Kalyn Ponga is having more influence on results than Billy Slater. Father time is undefeated. Billy is playing well, but nowhere near at the start of his career.

“If Cooper Cronk’s not going to be there and Cameron Smith’s not going to be there does that really say Billy is going to be able to go in there and play the type of football that he wants to play. Or do we look for a whole fresh new start. I would like to see them blood the kid at some stage.

“It’s only a matter of time.”

Gus: 'NSW can't defend their way to victory' .
Nine NRL commentator Phil Gould has warned NSW they won’t be able to beat the Queensland in this year’s State of Origin series by playing a defensive game. The teams will be announced on Monday for the opening game of the series at the MCG on June 6 and there is already plenty of interest with speculation that both states will usher in a new generation. The Maroons will be without talismanic captain Cameron Smith after he recently announced his retirement, while the Blues could undergo wholesale changes under new coach Brad Fittler as he looks to break Queensland's stranglehold on the series.

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