‘We’re Queenslanders’: Slater quiet on changes

2024 Men's State of Origin - NSW v QLD: Game 2
It was an unhappy night for Reece Walsh and the Maroons. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Queensland coach Billy Slater didn’t know whether the AC joint injury suffered by Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow would keep him out of the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium where he said home-ground advantage would mean nothing if his team couldn’t address the mistakes made in a history-making MCG mauling.

Shell-shocked Slater was curt when asked if he’d consider game 3 personnel changes, declaring only “we’re Queenslanders” but vowing even his own role would be gone over with a fine-tooth comb in what looms as a solemn review of a lopsided loss to NSW.

Tabuai-Fidow hurt himself in the opening half and was removed from the field but returned to score a try in the second 40 minutes that Slater said was “brave” without knowing the severity of the injury and whether the backline star would be ready for the decider.

“He’s done an AC, that’s all I know,” Slater said.

“So it was pretty tough effort for him to get back out there. He obviously wasn’t 100 per cent, but he knew the team needed him.”

Slater said he “hadn’t thought about” changes in the immediate aftermath of the 38-18 drubbing but added “we’re still Queenslanders”, alluding to the pick-and-stick policy the Maroons trumpet despite some lacklustre efforts from the forwards in particular and pressure sure to build between now and game 3.

As his captain Daly Cherry-Evans conceded the NSW attack on the Maroons felt “more physical”, Slater said any high shots or hits off the ball would be looked at in the review without pinpointing any dirty tactics form the Blues.

“I think Chez (Cherry-Evans) got hit off the ball once there that I can remember but the game was moving so fast, you know we are a fair way up there (in the coaches’ box),” he said.

“We’ll find a whole heap of stuff in our review. I’ll go over a lot of angles and that sort of stuff. I’ll do my job but I might make a comment on that later maybe.”

Despite being monstered in the first half, as NSW piled on six tries, the Maroons won the second half 18-4 and move to their home ground in Brisbane for the series decider with an ace up their sleeve.

2024 Men's State of Origin - NSW v QLD: Game 2
Felise Kaufusi and Reece Walsh react after the game 2 mauling. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Queensland has won nine of the past 10 deciders and Slater was, however, able to take some positives out of the second half. His team scored three tries, with Cherry-Evans playing a role in two of them, and only conceded one try.

“I thought the second half was quite good,” he said.

“I thought our actions, the way we started the second half, we went after our footy a bit more. We were patient. We weren’t looking for shortcuts to draw back the scoreline.

“We know what Suncorp is for us. It’s a decider, they are great games to be a part of, we won there a couple of years ago.

“But it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t address what happened in the first half. And we’ll do that. We’ll go through our game and work out what we can do better.

“I’ll look at my performance through the last 10 days like we’re all looking at each other and ourselves, so we’re gonna look at that and we’re going to take our best performance to Suncorp.”