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Origin honeymoon over, Slater in hot seat

3 minute read

Rookie Queensland coach Billy Slater must respond after the Blues stormed back into the State of Origin series to force a Brisbane decider.

BILLY SLATER.
BILLY SLATER. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Billy Slater will mull the prospect of changes after his State of Origin coaching honeymoon was brought to a screeching halt in Perth.

The champion fullback enjoyed a charmed introduction to the coaching booth in Queensland's 16-10 series-opening upset in Sydney.

But opposite Brad Fittler returned the favour on Sunday at Optus Stadium, his seven team changes paying off in a 44-12 thumping to square the series in Perth.

"It's different. It was different for me in game one, you've got no control up there," Slater said.

"You've got to put a lot of trust in your players, and trust in the work you've done throughout the week. I've got to get better too."

The Maroons' ruck dominance evaporated in the west while their forwards, apart from bench prop Pat Carrigan, were unable to make inroads.

Debutant winger Murray Taulagi and second-gamers Selwyn Cobbo and Jeremiah Nanai all made costly errors that led to tries while veteran prop Josh Papalii (five runs, 40 metres) had another quiet night.

Cameron Munster's shoulder and a head knock for Kalyn Ponga are further concerns for Slater, who could be forced to look outside the squad for the July 13 decider.

"They (the young players) contributed to the concentration errors in our team but they weren't the only ones," Slater said.

"You can't do that at this level; it's a lesson we've learnt. It's a tough arena, it's not easy out there, I can guarantee you.

"That's our team. We've got our team. We'll assess it (making changes) but I haven't thought that far ahead."

Slater bit his lip when asked multiple times about the officiating, particularly the period leading into halftime when the Blues earned multiple six-agains and Felise Kaufusi was sin-binned.

Any issues were kept in-house though, Slater preferring to blame concentration errors and bristling at suggestions they'd waved the white flag in a lopsided second half.

"I think Queensland will be proud of their team; they put in a whole lot of effort, alright," he said.

"It's one-all in the series, and the series will go back to Brisbane. That's not going to win us the game, it's not going to help us, unless we fix up these concentration errors.

"You can't fault their effort, and Queensland has always been about effort."

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