Billy Slater responds amid calls for Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to replace Reece Walsh in Origin

Slater has dismissed calls for Tabuai-Fidow to play fullback for the Maroons.

Billy Slater has shut down suggestions that Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow should be the Maroons' fullback, stating Reece Walsh is currently the best man for the job. After starring in Game 1 and producing some stellar performances in the weeks that have followed, NRL fans have begun to ponder if Tabuai-Fidow is actually Queensland's best option at fullback. And the calls for him to be given the Maroons No.1 jersey only grew after he scored one of the greatest tries in recent memory against the Sharks.

With Cronulla up 24-22 in the 58th minute on Thursday night, the Hammer scooped up a kick near his own line before racing the length of the field to put the Dolphins in front. Tabuai-Fidow beat six players in an incredible solo try that had Maroons fans calling for him to be picked at fullback for Game 2.

Pictured L-R: Billy Slater, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Reece Walsh
Billy Slater has dismissed calls for Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to play fullback for the Maroons, stating Reece Walsh is their fullback. Image: Getty

Tabuai-Fidow moved to the back when Walsh was ruled out after just seven minutes in the Origin opener and the Maroons seemingly didn't lose any attacking threat as they ran away 38-10 winners. And with Walsh having not stepped onto the footy field since, fans were calling for Hammer to be given the fullback spot for Game 2. But Slater opted to stick with Walsh and many believe that is a win for the Blues.

On Monday, Slater named Tabuai-Fidow in the centres for Game 2 and was defiant in his stance that Walsh is Queensland's No.1. The 21-year-old has undergone all required protocols with club team Brisbane after his mandatory 11-day stand-down period - in which he missed the Broncos' games against Cronulla and South Sydney.

Slater named Walsh at fullback and as long as he passes final tests in Queensland camp, he will take the field against NSW at the MCG on June 26. "Reece has got clearance, he’s good. There was no thought to staying with Hamiso at fullback," Slater said.

"Reece is Queensland fullback right now, Hammer is Queensland centre right now. I saw a fair bit of form in Reece’s preparation (for Game 1) and I'm looking forward to helping him go after that preparation again. There is plenty to come in Hammer's game and I’m excited about helping him get there. His teammates have a responsibility to bring him into the game and we’ve got 10 days to work out how we do that."

Maroons legend Wally Lewis had called for Walsh to miss out on Origin 2, fearing that his return from a concussion in a physical Origin game is risky. "As a former player I know you don't want to wait around, you want to come back the next week," Lewis told the Sydney Morning Herald. "You don't want to sit on the sideline or be considered a wimp if you don't come back in a few weeks.

"But there are too many long-term dangers to put up with now. You need to accept the decision from doctors and medical staff. I'm sure Reece will want to get back as soon as possible. The doctors will be exercising their professional prowess and making sure there won't be an early comeback. There's too much to lose."

David Fifita has once again been overlooked for the Maroons side despite two spots on Slater's bench opening up. Parramatta back-rower J'Maine Hopgood, who made his Origin debut in Game I in Sydney, has missed selection with a back injury after he didn't play against the Roosters on Saturday night. And Cobbo, who was the bench utility in Game I, has also been left out.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MAY 12: David Fifita of the Titans looks on during the round 10 NRL match between Gold Coast Titans and North Queensland Cowboys at Cbus Super Stadium, on May 12, 2024, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
David Fifita has once again been snubbed by Billy Slater.

Slater revealed on Monday that Cobbo has been playing with a few niggling injuries and that he decided to "give him a rest". "Selwyn is not quite 100 per cent at the moment," Slater said.

"He's been playing with injections and that sort of stuff... collective with a few things he would like to work on in his game, we thought it was best Selwyn have a rest. I felt this was the best thing for him and for the team. I have no doubt Selwyn will be back in a Queensland jersey soon."


But despite two spots being up for grabs, the rampaging Titans back-rower has once again missed out. Instead, Dolphins veteran Felise Kaufusi - who was the 18th man in Game I but came into the match when Walsh was knocked out - will take Hopgood's spot on the bench for Game 2. While Kurt Capewell is the other new face on the bench, coming in for Cobbo.