Slater ruled out for Queensland: report

Laine Clark
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SOO MAROONS TRAINING

Billy Slater has reportedly been ruled out of Origin I with a hamstring injury

Billy Slater has reportedly been ruled out of Wednesday's State of Origin opener in Melbourne with a hamstring injury.

After officially being given the green light by Queensland coach Kevin Walters, reports emerged on Monday that Slater had lost his race against time to overcome the hamstring complaint.

It would be a huge blow for the Maroons who are already without retired greats Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.

Slater has already announced he will retire from representative football after the 2018 Origin series.

Walters earlier dismissed any injury concerns at the captain/coach press conference held for both sides at the MCG on Monday morning.

While admitting the Maroons had been "a little worried" about the veteran fullback, he gave the side a clean bill of health.

Halfback Ben Hunt (thigh) and lock Josh McGuire (ankle) were their other injury concerns.

"They are all going well and on target. We have one training session to get through but we expect a fully fit team on Wednesday night," Walters said.

Queensland officials are yet to confirm Slater's withdrawal but should they, as is expected, Brisbane veteran Darius Boyd could be recalled to the side to wear the No.1 jersey.

Michael Morgan - currently on the bench as Queensland's utility - is another fullback option while Newcastle rookie Kalyn Ponga may also be in the mix.

Meanwhile, Walters confirmed Cronulla flyer Valentine Holmes would be the Maroons' new goal kicker in Origin I.

Dane Gagai and Cameron Munster were options but Walters said Holmes had impressed most after a kick-off at training.

'We expect Val to be kicking for us. He is not kicking in clubland but always practising," he said.

Walters got emotional when speaking about Greg Inglis taking over the captaincy as Queensland begin a new era.

"I know how Greg will play. He will lead from the front. If he can do that I will be really confident sitting in the coach's box," he said.

"I would not want anyone else but Greg right now in the situation we have found ourselves in."

Inglis - ahead of his 31st Origin game - admitted he didn't know what he would say to his troops before kick-off but was confident of leading by example.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for myself. I started my career down here when I moved to the (Melbourne) Storm at 16," he said.

"To be back here and leading the Maroons, it is ironic but I will put the team first."

Inglis becomes Queensland's 13th captain and third indigenous Maroons leader after taking over from 42 Origin great Smith.