Queensland captain Billy Slater has capped off his State of Origin career by becoming the first player to claim the Wally Lewis medal from a losing state, with one voter forced to defend the system.
Slater missed the series-opener with injury but was one of the Maroons' best in their game-two defeat, and was again superb in his farewell match in game three.
He finished Wednesday night with 136 metres, three line break assists and a try assist.
He also became just the second player after Arthur Beetson to captain an Origin side after his 35th birthday, having been appointed to the role following an injury to Greg Inglis.
"This is really special. Wally was a hero while I was growing up. To win this award for the second time will go down as one of my biggest achievements," Slater said after the match.
The medal is decided by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga and national selectors Laurie Daley and Darren Lockyer, who defended the controversial votes after the game.
"There's a points system in each game, and he's outpolled everyone in two games. That's how it works," Lockyer said.
NSW fullback James Tedesco was man of the match in game one, while Blues skipper Boyd Cordner took the honours in game two.
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But having the player of the series come from a side that only won a dead rubber and by someone that didn't play the first game didn't go down well across the board.
Former Blues captain Paul Gallen said Cordner was unlucky not to win the medal.
"I cant help but feel sorry for a NSW player not to win the Wally Lewis Medal. They (NSW) won the series. Someone like Boyd Cordner thoroughly deserved it," he said on the Nine Network.
"He was the best forward on the field in game one.
"Cordner was man of the match in game two and I thought he played well tonight - 80 minutes in those two games. I'm a little bit disappointed for a Blues player not to win it".
Slater himself even even seemed shocked by the call.
— FOX SPORTS Australia (@FOXSportsAUS) July 11, 2018
Billy Slater. Player of the series? Ummmm😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳😳
— christian nicolussi (@mrchrisnico) July 11, 2018
Billy Slater is an all-time great. But what’s doing
— Michael Carayannis (@MCarayannis) July 11, 2018
Billy Slater man of the series? Didn’t NSW win the series? Didn’t Billy only play 2 games? Deadset champion player but they’re cracking jokes. #Origin
— Brett Keeble (@BrettKeeble) July 11, 2018
— Joey Riordan (@Joey_Riordan) July 11, 2018