Billy Slater press conference, NSW Blues vs Queensland Maroons, Reece Walsh tackle, Joseph Suaalii, video

Queensland coach Billy Slater has bristled at questions over the sending off Joseph Suaalii for a high shot on Reece Walsh.

The Blues rookie was given his marching orders after just eight minutes for the tackle that saw Walsh rubbed out of the game during the Maroons’ 38-10 victory.

Slater, however, was in no mood to comment on the incident in his post-match press conference.

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“I’ll keep my feelings about that (tackle) to myself,” Slater said before being questioned over whether NSW were targeting the Broncos star.

“I have no idea but ill keep my feelings about that to myself,” he replied.

Slater was then pressed on whether he felt Suaalii deserved to be sent off, firing back at the reporter: “Did you?”

Walsh’s concussion forced Slater to reshuffle his backline with Selwyn Cobbo coming off the bench and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow thrust into fullback.

Slater vacated his coaches box after the Walsh incident and headed to the touchline to speak with his young flyer on the switch

“When The Hammer got thrown back to fullback I just felt I could help him with a few things, just to have a face-to-face conversation,” he said in his post-match press conference.

“That’s one thing I felt was beneficial to the team and The Hammer.

“I just felt it at the time and I did it.”

It worked. The stand in fullback scored a hattrick and made an incredible try-saving tackle on Blues forward Spencer Leniu.

‘A massive call in a game like this!’ | 00:58

“He did a great job under the high ball (and) positionally,” Slater continued.

“Not just scoring three tries, but he saved just as many.

“He did a wonderful job to adjust to a different position. I thought he was super.”

Slater meanwhile lauded his side for overcoming the disruption of losing Walsh, revealing they had planned for such a scenario.

 “I’m always proud of this footy team. The way they prepare, the way they carry themselves, they’re a credit to themselves as leaders of our state,” he said.

“I can imagine what 5.5 million people above the border are feeling about their footy team and pride would certainly be up there.

“We prepared for the unexpected and the unexpected happened.”

Two of the Maroons most senior stars also came in for heavy praise.

“I feel the great leaders do their jobs in their position and that’s the first thing Daly gets right,” Slater said of his skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.

‘I’m super proud of their efforts’ | 07:37

“His commitment to the defensive side of the game was first class. He’s a smart footy player. That’s why he’s the leader of our footy team.”

Speaking about Hunt, who scored the game’s penultimate try with a brilliant 40-metre dummy-half run, Slater labelled his hooker as someone who “typifies the Queensland spirit.”

Cherry-Evans too was highly complementary of the Dragons halfback.

“I’m so proud and happy to be a friend of his. He works hard. He gets what he deserves out there.”

Despite a resounding 38-10 scoreline, Slater was adamant his side were far from their best.

“We’ve got so much to go with our footy. I thought we were so far off with our footy tonight. But that’s to come.

“I don’t think we played the way we prepared. There is much more footy for this team. That’s exciting.”

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