Billy Slater

Five-year Sydney drought 'irrelevant' to new breed: Slater

Slater would go on to play three more Origins and retire as one of the Maroons’ all-time greats, likewise Thurston, whose rep career ended that night with 37 Origins to his name.

The great ‘JT’ had hoped to get an Origin swan song in Game Three and then be part of Australia’s World Cup campaign at the end of 2017, but shoulder surgery put paid to those plans.

Holmes, meanwhile, suits up for Queensland for the 11th time on Wednesday night, while Josh Papalii and Dane Gagai were also there five years ago and get their shot at breaking the Sydney hoodoo in Game One.

Slater receives four-star endorsement for Maroons job

The elite quartet - Wayne Bennett, Mal Meninga, Craig Bellamy and Cameron Smith - have all offered their unqualified support for the retired Melbourne Storm fullback to take charge of the Maroons this year.

Bennett, who steered an underdog Queensland team to win last year’s title, was expected to retain the position. However, the QRL prefers a full-time coach, leading Bennett to announce last week he would concentrate on coaching the Rabbitohs in his final season at Redfern.

Storm to honour Slater, Smith with statues

The artists have been announced today as the successful applicants to design and produce the statues which will be located adjacent to Storm’s home ground at AAMI Park.

Over 25 years, Gillie and Marc have developed a worldwide reputation for delivering quality private and public artworks. 

Billy Slater goes out with a win

Queensland provided one final highlight for stand-in skipper Slater, downing NSW 18-12 in State of Origin III in Brisbane in a fitting farewell for the veteran fullback.

Polarising Maroons playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans was a standout after ending three years in the Origin wilderness.

After his 31st and final Origin, Slater said it was vital for the Maroons' future that he helped deny the Blues their first series whitewash in 18 years.

Slater out of Origin I

Brisbane's Anthony Milford and Newcastle's Kalyn Ponga will be flown into Melbourne as potential replacements.

Veteran fullback Slater's shock withdrawal after aggravating a hamstring injury is a major setback for a Maroons team already without a total of 151 Origin games worth of experience as they begin life without retired greats Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk.

Slater - a veteran of 29 Origins - had already confirmed he would retire from representative football after the 2018 series.

Bennett questions controversial Slater 'drop-kick' try ruling

Slater drop-kicked the ball for himself close to the line to set up the Storm's opening try in what the NRL has since deemed to be an initial correct ruling by the on-field referee Ashley Klein.

Klein sent the ruling to the Bunker which confirmed the try. Klein then explained to Brisbane captain Darius Boyd that Slater was entitled to drop-kick the ball and didn't have to necessarily kick for the posts.

NRL referees boss Bernie Sutton explained why the correct ruling was made (see video below).

Benji ensures Tigers teammates give Slater guard of honour

Marshall was preparing to give a post-game interview for Fox Sports following his team's surprise 10-8 win over the Storm at AAMI Park when he noticed the Melbourne players were getting ready to give Slater a guard of honour as he walked off the ground.

Yelling out to his teammates over the other side of the field, Marshall told them to rush over to acknowledge Slater in his milestone match.

Past and former players have taken to social media to praise Marshall for his selfless act, including Monty Betham, David Mead and Jake Marketo, plus countless fans.

Stat Attack: Billy Slater's glittering career by the numbers

As the veteran fullback prepares for the round two clash against the Wests Tigers at AAMI Park, here's a look at some of the key stats that show why he’s one of the game’s greatest of all time.

When it comes to tackle breaks in the NRL era, Slater is the undisputed king with a grand total of 1231 for his career, which puts him 108 clear of the next best, South Sydney Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis.

Slater is also the all-time leader for line breaks with 259 for which puts him well clear of Brisbane Broncos five-eighth Darren Lockyer (203).

Bellamy praises all-conquering Smith and Slater

The champion duo claimed every available major medal and trophy over the last year, including the Golden Boot and Dally M and Clive Churchill medals. On a team level, they secured a State of Origin series victory, a World Cup win, a Telstra Premiership and now a WCC triumph.

Bellamy said they don't always get the recognition they deserve.

"I was a really proud coach tonight," he said.

Holmes happy learning from Slater

Holmes scored six tries for Australia on Friday night, equalling New Zealander Hugh McGahan's 1983 Test record, and breaking his own record for the most tries in a single World Cup match. 

The Sharks flyer had set that record just a week before, scoring five four-pointers against Samoa before backing it up against the Bati with six in the Kangaroos' thumping 54-6 semi-final victory. 

These outstanding back-to-back performances have sparked debate about whether Holmes is a better winger or fullback, with the man himself preferring to wear the No.1 jersey.