State of Origin: Queensland coach Billy Slater reveals on Cam Munster injury

Queensland coach Billy Slater says he has no issues with the Origin readiness of Cameron Munster, revealing he battled the same groin issue as the Storm playmaker and he’d have no hesitation casting him into his key role in June.

As he stood on the MCG on Tuesday, the venue for the second clash of this year’s series, Slater also said he was happy for “unorthodox” thinking when it came to squeezing star fullbacks Kalyn Ponga and Reece Walsh into his starting side.

Munster has played two games in a row after missing the opening three games with a mystery groin issue that confounded the Storm medical staff. Even the 29-year-old conceded he could still be “crap” some games as he managed the injury.

But Slater, who keeps close tabs on Storm and Munster as a Melbourne resident and sometimes helper, said all players were managing injuries and that would continue in the 50 days between now and the State of Origin opener.

“I’ve had a similar injury and it can be tough at times. It can be painful, but it doesn’t seem to be hindering his performance,” Slater said.

“Every time that I’ve seen him train he’s been as energetic and as Cameron Munster as you can be if that makes sense.

“It’s gonna be an ongoing thing for him. These sort of things don’t just heal over a couple of weeks. He’s gonna have to manage, but he’s not the only one in the in the competition managing an injury.

“Some we know about some we don’t know about and, you know, this one is just well publicised.”

Looking for a third series win in a row, Slater has a potential squad stacked with backline talent, including Newcastle star Ponga and Broncos gun Walsh who could both slot into the No.1 jersey.

Walsh is the incumbent custodian after Ponga, who has played seven times for Queensland and was integral to the Maroons’ 2022 series win, opted out of last year’s series as he overcame concussion issues.

But both would be, fitness pending, available to Slater who isn’t yet consumed by deciding who should play where, and he’s not ready to “close any opportunities” as to how his side may line up.

“My attention right now is just watching players, watching the habits that they’ve got in their game. You know, watching the standards they hold themselves to not just each game but each moment in each game,” he said.

“That’s really important because that sort of habit is what they’re going to fall back on when they get tired. And I can guarantee you they’re going to get tired in the game that they’re playing if they were in a maroon jersey.

“You know, I wouldn’t close any opportunities down and I’m one to look outside the box on how to play our game. I’m not against doing things a different way. And if it suits our team and it suits the strength of our team, well we’ll look at it. Anything’s possible.”

Slater also singled out Storm winger Xavier Coates as someone who had worked incredibly hard and loomed as a strong chance to return this year.

“He’s had some pretty special plays to start this year,” Slater said.

“Some might call it luck, but the way that I’ve heard Craig Bellamy talk about Xavier Coates’ off-season and the pre-season … he’s worked really hard and he’s elevating his game.

“He’s done a great job for Queensland in the past. There’s still six more games before we build our team, but he had earned the right to be in the 34-man squad up in Brisbane in February. He’s certainly a player that would do Queensland proud given the opportunity.”

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