Billy Slater calls out 'disrespectful' move after Cameron Munster ruled out of Origin series

The Queensland Maroons coach will need to pick a new playmaker to partner Daly Cherry-Evans.

Billy Slater has dodged questions about who might replace Cameron Munster in the halves for Queensland after the Melbourne Storm star was ruled out for the entire State of Origin series on Monday. The Storm revealed that Munster has torn the adductor tendon at the top of his leg and will miss at least two months of footy.

Munster has opted against having surgery - which would have ended his season - but is still expected to miss 8-10 weeks. That means he won't play a part in Queensland's quest to win a third-straight Origin series.

Billy Slater and Cameron Munster.
Billy Slater has refused to speculate on who might replace Cameron Munster for Queensland. Image: Getty

Tom Dearden is shaping as the front-runner to take Munster's spot in the halves for the Maroons, but Slater also has Ben Hunt, Ezra Mam and Sam Walker as options. Dearden played a starring role in Game III of the 2022 series and was 18th man for the majority of last year's series.

Cameron Munster in State of Origin in 2023.
Cameron Munster in action for Queensland in 2023.
Tom Dearden with Billy Slater after the State of Origin decider in 2022.
Tom Dearden played and won the State of Origin decider in 2022.

Slater could also opt to play Hunt at halfback and move Daly Cherry-Evans to five-eighth, while Mam has burst onto the scene in recent years and helped the Broncos make the NRL grand final last year. But discussing the situation later on Monday, Maroons coach Slater refused to speculate who he might pick, saying it would be 'disrespectful' to those in contention.

"Until this exact time next week when the teams are announced, it's all premature conversation," Slater said on his podcast. "I understand it being a member of the media and I get the excitement around it but as a person who has to make decisions it is really important to be respectful to all players and allow them to play the game.

"Next week, I'll be sitting on The Sunday Footy Show in the afternoon. It would be disrespectful for me to talk about individual players who I think will be there or won't be there when there is still two games to be played after that show. You've really got to be patient and wait for all the information, do your duty for the state, and then select that team."


Munster has been battling groin pain since the pre-season and aggravated the injury against Parramatta on Sunday. The Storm were hopeful the injury wasn't as bad as it first looked, but revealed on Monday that the five-eighth has torn an adductor tendon.

"While it is obviously disappointing for both Cameron and the club to be missing football at this stage of the season, we are confident this approach will give him the best chance of recovery in the long term," said Storm football boss Frank Ponissi said of the decision to rest Munster rather than book him in for surgery. It's likely he will undergo surgery after the season finishes later this year.

Melbourne and Queensland teammate Xavier Coates said of Munster's injury: "It's a massive blow, to be fair. Whenever he's put on the Maroons jersey, he's done such a great job for Queensland. Ezra Mam, Tommy Dearden, those boys are freaks. I think those boys are really pushing for that spot there."

with AAP