Billy Slater, Queensland Maroons conspiracy theory, Reece Walsh tackle, Joseph Suaalii broadcast, Origin Game I, series opener, news, videos

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Maroons coach Billy Slater has remained tight-lipped on his thoughts on Joseph Suaalii’s ugly shot on Reece Walsh and now there is talk of a “conspiracy” within the Queensland camp.

Answering questions about the incident during the post-match press conference, Slater remained coy on Thursday morning, and Fox League’s James Hooper believes he knows why.

He explained that Maroons officials believe rookie coach Michael Maguire “specifically attacked” the Broncos flyer.

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“There is a conspiracy theory going around, and you can understand why when you consider what is at stake,” Hpoper said on NRL360 on Thursday.

“It’s the state of origin, it’s as big as it gets, but the Maroons are furious on their own.

“We saw Nate Myles have a few words with Joseph at the right time as he left the field, which was a brutal sleight of hand.

“When I talk to people today, there is a feeling among Maroons that Walsh was specifically targeted and that there is bad blood.”

However, veteran rugby league reporter Phil Rothfield claimed that “Madge wouldn’t have asked for what we saw”.

League legend Gorden Tallis replied: “Are you sure?” to which Rothfield said, “I’m not sure”.

“It backfired in both ways because he lost a player and ‘Hammer’ (Tabuai-Fidow) went to full-back and probably played better than Reece could have done, so it backfired,” he added.

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NRL360 presenter Braith Anasta backed the Maroons’ view, explaining: “You get the feeling Billy thinks Madge told his players to take out Walsh”.

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Slater, meanwhile, “didn’t look too happy” after the match and replied “I’ll keep my feelings about that to myself” when asked if he thought Walsh was the target.

Slater himself was often targeted during his time in the Queensland No. 1 side and the Storm, as he was one of the most dangerous attacking players in NRL history.

For Tallis, he believes Slater knows exactly what it’s like to fill Walsh’s shoes as a feisty full-back with a smaller frame.

“I think Billy has been targeted throughout his playing career and you have to get to the good players, and Billy feels like that’s probably happened in his career,” he said.

“Now he’s seen this young boy come onto the scene and the way they tried to defend him is the best way to defend him, but things can go wrong.”

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