Slater wary of Hayne influence
He was part of the Melbourne grand final team of 2009 that found a way to limit the influence of Jarryd Hayne and Queensland fullback Billy Slater says Hayne is the man the Maroons must shut down in order to win Game One next Wednesday night.
Hayne's undeniable form over the past month for Parramatta made a difficult choice between him and Josh Dugan as New South Wales fullback incredibly straightforward for Blues coach Laurie Daley with his dismantling of St George Illawarra last weekend reminiscent of the 2009 Qualifying Final at Kogarah.
On that occasion Hayne made a number of breaks from the back-field and scored one of the greatest individual tries in finals history and Slater knows that in a NSW backline with plenty of strike power, Hayne is the No.1 gun.
"There are a lot of dangerous players in their side but certainly Jarryd Hayne's their No.1," Slater said.
"He's a great player. I've played alongside Jarryd before and especially last year in the World Cup, that Final was an outstanding performance from him.
"He seems like he's matured a lot and settled a lot in his role as captain of the Parramatta Eels and is really enjoying that role and he's playing some great football.
"We're going to have to defend as a unit to make sure that wherever he is we're covering him."
Ten years on from scoring an extraordinary individual try of his own that will live long in the annals of Origin folklore, Slater conceded that the achievement of maintaining his place during such a period of success for Queensland is a greater source of pride.
"You get told as a young fella that your time will come and go pretty quick and as a young fella you sort of take it with a grain of salt and think it will last forever but it certainly does go really quick," said Slater, who made his Origin debut in Game One 2004, a Series the Maroons lost 2-1.
"Although it does feel a long time ago that I did score that try I feel I'm a lot different player to what I was back then but it is something that I'm very proud of and probably a lot more proud to be able to say that I've played for Queensland for 10 years.
"You certainly think about your game and are a lot more measured in what you do on the field these days. I was probably a little bit erratic to say the least when I first came into Origin but I suppose that made me the player I was back then and I've tried to evolve and become a more complete player."
Slater missed Game Three of the 2005 Series – the last NSW Series win – after playing in games one and two and says while the pressure to maintain this unprecedented period of success intensifies each year, showing pride in the state jersey is the greatest motivation.
"There's always pressure on ourselves. There's a lot of pressure externally and internally but no one wants to lose and there's always that fear of complacency so that certainly drives us," said Slater, who will play Origin No.23 on Wednesday night.
"Pulling on the Queensland jersey and not letting that down is probably just as fearful as being the first losing side after eight years."