'Don't ever question my integrity': Legends hit out over Origin controversy

Origin greats Mal Meninga and Laurie Daley have hit back at the criticism surrounding Billy Slater’s controversial man of the series win.

The Australian selectors have defended the panel’s decision to award Slater the Wally Lewis Medal, and say they are outright offended by those questioning their integrity.

“One thing I do know, and Mal Meninga knows, and Darren Lockyer knows — don’t ever question my integrity, don’t ever question (why) I’m voting because of whatever reason,” Daley said on Sky Sports radio.

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Laurie Daley and Mal Meninga have hit back at the critics. Pic: Getty

I can understand the frustration from NSW supporters because we want a NSW player to win. (But Slater’s) been very good in games two and three and I believe he is the player of the series.”

Australian coach Mal Meninga also hit out at the critics, and said the widespread discontent with the decision was completely unwarranted.

“That upsets me the most – that our integrity has been questioned,” Meninga told NRL.com.

“There’s no bias. It’s a decision by three individuals who I think have a pretty good knowledge of the game.”

Slater became the first player to claim the Wally Lewis medal from the losing side of an Origin series when he was awarded the honour after Queensland’s game-three win on Wednesday.

The Queensland captain was out injured in the series-opener, but was arguably the Maroons’ best upon his return in game two and again in the final match.

He finished the night with three line break assists, a try assist and 136 running metres to bow out of the Origin arena with a victory.

It is the second time Slater has won the award, having also taken the honour in 2010.

NSW coach Brad Fittler suggested the medal also recognised the feats Slater achieved throughout an Origin career dating back 15 years.

“I can live with the fact Billy takes the medal away. He’s been one of our great State of Origin players,” Fittler said.

Billy Slater accepts the Wally Lewis Medal for player of the series. Pic: Getty

“There were a few players in our team that I would’ve chosen ahead of Billy in this series, but the fact (is) he’s been a brilliant player for the sport, State of Origin.

The medal is decided by a 4-3-2-1 poll system voted on by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga, as well as national selectors Laurie Daley and Lockyer.

NSW five-eighth James Maloney said that while Slater had performed strongly, a number of Blues players were more worthy recipients.

“I think Teddy was very good. I thought Tommy Trbojevic was outstanding. There’s a whole heap of guys that put in massive performances for us,” he said.

“There’s no doubt Bill was a real key player in Queensland’s performance.

“But at the end of the day we won the series. You’d think they probably could’ve found a deserving recipient in our team. But oh well, it is what it is.”

With AAP.