'That's how it works': Voter defends Billy Slater award

Matt Encarnacion
'That's how it works': Voter defends Billy Slater award

Kangaroos selector Darren Lockyer has defended the decision to crown Billy Slater the best player of this year's State of Origin series despite playing in just two of the three matches.

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.

Slater won the award despite missing the opener. Pic: AAP

"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.

"I can live with him taking away a medal, but it was more than for this series."

Asked who he thought deserved the prize, Fittler said: "Tom Trbojevic was pretty outstanding I thought across the three games. He was my pick."

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.

Blues fullback James Tedesco would have polled strongly after winning man-of-the-match honours in game one, while teammate Boyd Cordner was best in game two.

Slater would have garnered most of the votes in games two and three.

"There's a points system in each game, and he's outpolled everyone in two games. That's how it works," Lockyer said.

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."

Former Blues captain Paul Gallen thought Cordner should've won the medal.

"I cant help but feel sorry for a NSW player not to win the Wally Lewis Medal. They (NSW) won the series. Someone like Boyd Cordner thoroughly deserved it," he said on the Nine Network.

"He was the best forward on the field in game one.

"Cordner was man of the match in game two and I thought he played well tonight - 80 minutes in those two games. I'm a little bit disappointed for a Blues player not to win it".