Slater expecting to be targeted again - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Slater expecting to be targeted again

By Wayne Heming 04/06/2008 07:46:02 PM Comments (0)

Queensland fullback Billy Slater says only a more aggressive opening by his forwards can save him from another Origin bashing in game two next Wednesday night.

"The minute you step over that white line it's a physical battle out there," said the 88kg Slater, a former track work rider for leading horse trainer Gai Waterhouse.

"There's no weak links in the defence so you just have to be brave and take it into them."

Slater did that all night in Sydney last month and was left battered and bruised after he was smashed all over the field.

He carried the ball in attack almost 250 metres - 70 metres further than the next best player, NSW centre Mark Gasnier's 178 metres.

The Maroons will shield him from another punishing pounding by playing reserve Karmichael Hunt at fullback at various stages and using Slater at dummy half to spell hooker Cameron Smith.

"I haven't spoken to (Queensland coach) Mal (Meninga), but we've got a few options," said Slater.

"I've played a bit of dummy half for my club (Melbourne) so if somebody needs a break K (Hunt) can slot in at fullback or he can play five-eighth or lock, he's pretty versatile."

NSW coach Craig Bellamy directed his kickers, in particular rookie halfback Peter Wallace, to keep the football away from Queensland's wingers Israel Folau and Brent Tate in Origin I.

He also instructed his chasers to hammer Slater every time he carted the football back.

It kept the livewire Slater from running off his wingers where he can be so dangerous in broken play.

Slater doubted his club coach Bellamy had devised a tactic to target him specifically or that he used his inside knowledge of Queensland's six Storm players to plot the Origin I upset.

"That stuff is media driven," said Slater.

"I didn't think Craig said anything about the Storm boys that anyone didn't know.

"He certainly doesn't know any more about Cameron Smith's game any more than the next person watching TV because Cameron plays to his strengths and people watch him every week.

"He wasn't going out their pointing out what his Storm players do bad.

"He just had a good game plan. He's a very disciplined coach and he structured their side very well.

"They just had too much enthusiasm, too much energy for us at the start of the game and pretty much blew us off the park.

"If we start a little bit better it will give us a bit more energy to put a bit of kick pressure on them."

Virus victims Sam Thaiday and Steve Price were excused from Wednesday's 60 minute bash-up session at ANZ Stadium, where trainer Billy Johnstone put the players through a short but physically demanding session.

Skipper Darren Lockyer started Wednesday's session but left the field soon after to have an ice pack strapped to his right knee.

The Queensland camp said there were no concerns over Lockyer, who is being restricted to light duties at training and won't be participating in any contact work until later in the week.

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