Slater opens up on reported Smith feud

Laine Clark

Another awkward Cameron Smith moment appears to have been avoided at Wednesday's State of Origin III.

Billy Slater has tried to clear the air over their relationship, saying he had "no problem" with the ex-Queensland skipper.

The stage was set for an uncomfortable meeting at the dead rubber with Queensland hosting a pre-game tribute for both retired great Smith and departing fullback Slater, just days after reports emerged the pair's wives had fallen out.

There was also speculation the WAGS feud had also spilled over to Slater's relationship with former Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk.

Smith will receive a pre-game presentation for his record 42-Origin career after making a surprise representative retirement in May while Slater will be honoured before his 31st and final game for the Maroons in a big screen tribute.

A repeat of Smith's cold post-match exchange with former Melbourne and Queensland teammate Cooper Cronk was expected when Smith bumped into his former Maroons leader on Wednesday night.

Slater, Smith and Corey Parker discuss tactics ahead of game one in Melbourne. Pic: Getty

But Slater moved to avoid any potential Origin III awkwardness with Smith when he tried to end the rumours about his Melbourne teammate and ex-Maroons skipper.

"I have got no problems with Cam. Cam and I are fine, Cooper and I are fine," Slater said.

"I am not going to stand here and gossip about other people's relationships, as far as I am concerned I am okay with everyone."

Asked how disappointing it was for the spat to reach the public domain, Slater said: "Like I said I am not going to talk about anyone else's relationship, mine is fine."

While keen to end any feud rumours, Slater admitted he did not seek out advice from Smith before taking over Queensland reins for the first time in his final Origin.

"Not really, I am going to go out there and do my job," he said.

Billy Slater (r) says he has no problems with ex-Maroons skipper Cameron Smith

"I have not spoken to anyone about that to anyone.

"I have learned a lot over the years playing under Cam, under (Darren) Lockyer, they are great leaders of men - I will work it out myself."

Slater was more worried about what his emotions would be like in his final Origin as Queensland look to avoid NSW's first series whitewash since 2000.

"I have thought about walking out of the tunnel (for the last time) and what I will be feeling," Slater said.

The Big Three (l to r) Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater are no longer

"It's been a big part of my life, the last 15 years. I just feel super grateful and privileged to be able to achieve what I have, to be a member of the teams I have been with and the success that we have had.

"It's been such a great ride. I am sure a few emotions will run through my body when I do run out and sing the national anthem.

"Hopefully we can go out there and make it a memorable occasion, not only for myself but my family and the team."


Slater out to avoid clean sweep

Memories of 2014 are spurring on stand-in Queensland skipper Billy Slater to prevent a NSW clean sweep in his State of Origin swansong.

Before his 31st and final game for the Maroons, Slater said he was determined to steer his team to victory and ensure the Blues did not gain momentum for their own dynasty.

NSW are vying for their first series whitewash since 2000.

Slater said Queensland's current plight reminded him of their past series loss in 2014.

Four years ago the Maroons recorded a 32-8 Origin III win in Brisbane, the catalyst to go on and win the next three series.

NSW's series win this year marks just the second for the Blues in 13 years.

"We were in this position in 2014, we lost the series. It is important to gain a bit of momentum to go into next year and hopefully get that winning feeling for these boys," Slater said.



"I know the series isn't on the line any more and NSW have wrapped it up and fully deserve it but we are playing for Queensland.

"This team is pretty important to the people of Queensland. I have always remembered that pulling on this Maroon jersey."

Rather than adopt a "do it for Billy" approach to avoid a whitewash, Slater wanted the new-look Queensland team to remember the support on their regional fan day at Hervey Bay last week when locals queued for hours for autographs.

"We will be doing everything possible to do that, that's not something you want next to your name," Slater said of the possibility of a NSW clean sweep.

"We need to go out there and play best we can.

"We went up to Hervey Bay at the start of the camp, I really enjoy going to those fan days in the rural areas.

"It reminds you of how much this team means to the public, that's who we are playing for on Wednesday night."

Slater will skipper Queensland for the first time after centre Greg Inglis was ruled out with a broken thumb.

Inglis joined the Queensland camp on Sunday.

"He's just arrived, it's good to have Greg in camp that's for sure," Slater said.

"We will go up to Brisbane this afternoon, then it starts getting pretty serious."

Inglis's injury ensures Slater is the last man standing from Queensland's 2006 side that launched their incredible run of 11 series wins in the past 12 years.

He takes over the reins of a Queensland side that has struggled in life without their Big Three - skipper Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.

But Slater believed Daly Cherry-Evans was ready to make a statement at halfback after ending three years in the Origin wilderness.

"I think he can play in that No.7 jersey for a long time," he said.