Billy Slater could be forced to play out the remainder of his State of Origin career where it started – on the wing – following Greg Inglis’ dominant performance in the Queensland No.1 jersey in the series decider.
That is the opinion of Origin greats Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns and Wally Lewis.
Inglis was in explosive form for the Maroons in their record 52-6 win at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday with Slater sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Slater, 33 next week, has played the majority of his 27 Origin fixtures at fullback. But his Origin career started on the wing in 2004, with Rhys Wesser in the custodian role for the Maroons.
Slater has excelled at fullback for Queensland, but Fittler, Johns and Lewis in their role as commentators on the Nine Network’s Sunday Footy Show concurred it would be hard for Maroons coach Mal Meninga to move Inglis out of the fullback position for Origin I next year.
“Having Greg Inglis at the back was worse for NSW,” Fittler said.
“I think when you have Billy Slater there, you have to put your best players in your team and when Billy Slater comes back, one of the big decisions may be to play him back on the wing where he started because you can’t move Greg Inglis. He runs the ball back with so much power.”
“Billy, the way he plays, he could play wing for another year or two.”
“I don’t think you can move Greg Inglis from fullback now,” he said.
With Lewis adding: “He is just so thrilling (back there).”
It was just the second time Inglis, 28, had played fullback in his Origin career, also spanning 27 games. He last played there in Queensland’s 21-20 win at Suncorp Stadium in game three that sealed the 2012 series. Slater was out injured that night too.
Slater won’t play again this year after having shoulder surgery after Origin II at the MCG.