'Kevin Walters has been rolled'

Queensland coach Kevin Walters fought back tears discussing the decision to leave Billy Slater out of his Origin I team, but was it actually his decision?

Walters and fellow Queensland selector Gene Miles described the snubbing of Slater for next week's Origin opener as the "toughest decision we've had to make".

Walters became emotional talking about Slater's omission after sticking with incumbent No.1 Darius Boyd for May 31's Origin I in Brisbane.

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At one stage Miles had to help out Walters during his team announcement on Monday.

"That is without doubt the toughest decision we've had to make," said 17-year Maroons selector Miles of Slater.

Boyd gets the nod over Slater. Image: Getty

"He's probably the best fullback I've ever seen, and to make that call... we didn't make that call lightly."

Walters said he hoped Slater would assist at the Queensland team camp on the Gold Coast.

"He was very close, mate. (But) I think it's a bit unfair on Billy to put him under so much pressure in game one of a series," Walters said.

"Everyone expected him to come out and change the world.

"We've relieved him of those duties and I know Darius will get the job done for us.

"He's a great player and deserves first crack at the No.1 jumper."

However an interesting theory has emerged that Walters desperately wanted Slater in the team but was outvoted at the selection table.

Wallabies great Greg Martin reckons the decision to leave Slater out shows there is friction within the Maroons' selectors, made of Walters, Miles and Darren Lockyer.

“Last year he didn’t play because he had that terrible shoulder injury so Kevvy got him to coach and he was magnificent apparently,” Martin said.

“Kevvy had him at Melbourne for years, he knows what he can do. Kevvy wanted him in the team I reckon.

“Kevin Walters has been rolled. For what? Gee, I’m really looking forward to Justin O’Neill playing ahead of Billy Slater.

“Darren Lockyer is in this,” he said.

“Kevvy has been rolled. There’s no way in the world. Kevvy spent years down in Melbourne.

“What’s the most dangerous thing in rugby league? Don’t worry about that big Nelson (Asofa-Solomona) guy down there in Melbourne. It is Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater in a play together. That is the most wicked thing in rugby league and you’re going to chop the head off one of them.”

with AAP