Billy Slater urged to lure Josh Papalii out of retirement in huge twist for State of Origin 3

The former Maroons enforcer retired ahead of last year's series.

Maroons coach Billy Slater has been urged to reach out to former enforcer Josh Papalii after Queensland's ability to match it with Blues questioned ahead of State of Origin Game 3. NSW dismantled Queensland in Origin Game 2 at the MCG in a 38-18 blitz with the return of Latrell Mitchell proving a masterstroke from coach Michael Maguire.

Slater has come under criticism for his selections with superstars such as Reece Walsh also under pressure heading into the decider. One area the Blues dominated for 80 minutes was the forward battle with the Maroons constantly on the back-foot.

Maroons great Gorden Tallis has urged coach Billy Slater (pictured right) to call Josh Papalii (pictured left) ahead of State of Origin Game 3. (Getty Images)
Maroons great Gorden Tallis has urged coach Billy Slater (pictured right) to call Josh Papalii (pictured left) ahead of State of Origin Game 3. (Getty Images)

Mitchell and Angus Crichton wreaked havoc down one side of the field for their state with prop Payne Haas having his best game in the sky blue colours. While Maroons legend Cameron Smith singled out the set restarts as an area that favoured the Blues, fans were quick to point out Maguire's forwards dominated throughout the contest.

And Slater has a big decision to make when it comes to his bench. On Wednesday night, Maroons legend Gorden Tallis urged Slater to ask former enforcer Papalii to come out of rep retirement.

Papalii debuted for his state in 2013 and went on to play 23 times. He won 14 games and was involved in five series victories. The Raiders prop made the call to step aside from representative footy last year ahead of the series. However, Tallis feels Slater's forward pack needs more mongrel and said it was a phone call the coach had to make ahead of Game 3.

“I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, there’s a phone call that needs to be made down to Canberra to say ‘can you have 20 minutes for us’," Tallis said on Fox Sports' NRL 360. “I’ve never seen (Papalii) get bullied and I don’t think he’s ever let Queensland down, he’s sitting there, we’re light on in the forwards. I would ring him and say ‘can you play 20 minutes for our state’.

Tallis pointed to the call made to Allan Langer in 2001 as the precedent having claimed Papalii would at least talk to Slater about the chances of coming back. “There was one phone call to a bloke aged 35 (Allan Langer in 2001) in England and he said what took you so long, so he (Papalii) will answer it," Tallis added.

Josh Papalii reacts during a game.
Josh Papalii (pictured) retured from representative footy last year.

Papalii isn't the only player Maroons greats are asking Slater to consider for the Origin decider. Maroons legend Parker said there will be a lot of Queensland fans interested in how Reece Walsh plays this weekend against the Panthers.

Walsh came under criticism for his performance in Game 2 and many feel the Maroons need an X-factor heading to Suncorp. And Parker has called for Kalyn Ponga to inter the internal conversation within the camp if Walsh doesn't perform.


“Reece Walsh is a wonderful talent but he doesn’t own the Queensland No.1 jumper. Billy Slater owned it for a long time but Reece hasn’t been around long enough to have a mortgage on the fullback spot," Parker said on SEN radio, according to The Courier Mail.

“If Walsh has a good game against the Panthers, well that would basically seal his spot, but if he has another flat performance, the door has to be open for Kalyn. If KP puts a good game together on Sunday, there has to be some internal conversations."