Billy Slater weighs in on calls for Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to replace Reece Walsh in Origin

Billy Slater, Queensland’s Origin coach, has firmly rejected suggestions that Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow should replace Reece Walsh as the Maroons’ fullback, asserting Walsh’s current form and readiness for the role. Following Walsh’s impactful performance in Game 1 and subsequent strong showings, speculation arose among NRL fans about Tabuai-Fidow’s potential as Queensland’s top choice at fullback. This debate intensified after Tabuai-Fidow’s stunning solo try against Cronulla, where he evaded six defenders to score a memorable try, prompting calls for his inclusion as Queensland’s No. 1 for Game 2.

Tabuai-Fidow had seamlessly transitioned to fullback during Game 1 after Walsh exited early due to injury, showcasing his abilities without compromising Queensland’s attacking prowess as they secured a decisive victory. Despite Walsh’s absence from subsequent matches, Slater remained steadfast in his decision to retain Walsh at fullback, a move perceived by many as advantageous for Queensland’s rivals, New South Wales.

In his squad announcement for Game 2, Slater confirmed Tabuai-Fidow’s selection in the centres, reaffirming Walsh’s position as Queensland’s premier fullback. Walsh, having completed all necessary protocols and medical assessments following his injury, received Slater’s full backing to reclaim the fullback role for the upcoming clash at the MCG on June 26.

“Reece has been cleared and is in good condition. There was no hesitation in selecting him as our fullback,” Slater asserted. “Currently, Reece holds that role, while Hamiso will contribute from the centres. I witnessed Reece’s excellent preparation for Game 1 and look forward to supporting his continued development. Hamiso also has tremendous potential, and I am enthusiastic about assisting him in reaching his peak performance.”

Meanwhile, the decision to exclude David Fifita from the Maroons squad for Game 2 despite available bench spots highlighted Slater’s strategic choices. Instead, seasoned campaigner Felise Kaufusi and Kurt Capewell were named as replacements, reflecting Slater’s approach to balance experience and form in his selections.

In addressing concerns raised by Maroons legend Wally Lewis about Walsh’s return from injury, Slater acknowledged the importance of medical advice in ensuring player welfare and long-term health considerations. Despite differing opinions on player readiness, Slater’s decisions underscored his commitment to fielding the strongest possible team against a formidable NSW outfit.

Back to top button