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Slater sets record straight on THAT Origin try

Billy Slater waits for the decision after scoring his infamous try for the Maroons in 2004.
Billy Slater waits for the decision after scoring his infamous try for the Maroons in 2004.

THE Billy Slater legend began the night he burned the Blues, with a spectacular solo try in Game II of the 2004 Origin series, but was he on-side?

Debate has raged for years depending on which side of the border you are from, but few can doubt it was a spectacular effort from Slater that deserved a try.

"Did you think you were slightly off side, Billy? Just from the initial grubber?" Slater was asked.

"Uh, well, nah - I think I was onside," Slater replied.

"I do time it perfectly. I tell the referees all the time, 'make sure you know I'm off-side if you call it.'"

While some might still refute Slater'a claims he was on-side for Darren Lockyer's grubber at the line, he agrees it was the moment his whole life changed.

Former Newcastle playmaker and now commentator Matty Johns has covered most of Slater's career and he asked the former Storm, Maroons and Kangaroos' legend what that moment did for his career?

"You burst onto the scene as an exceptional young player," Johns recalled.

Slater breaks the line before his infamous chip and chase try.
Slater breaks the line before his infamous chip and chase try.

"Your first chance at State of Origin, you scored that try. Lockyer grubber kicks, you get the ball back, chip over the top. Everything changed for you then didn't it?"

"It certainly did," Slater replied. "The biggest arena, State of Origin, and look, to be honest, I didn't really know what I was doing.

"I was playing on the wing. I was out of position, but I just wanted to chase the footy. That's what sort of a player I was in those early days - I just wanted to be around the ball.

"I wanted to be involved, and that just happened. It was a reaction more than a thought."

The moment set Slater well on the way to going down as arguably the greatest fullback in the history of rugby league.

Supporters of Clive Churchill might argue otherwise, but few can doubt Slater's enormous impact on how the game is played.

"It doesn't matter if you've seen Churchill play, or Langlands, Billy Slater is the greatest fullback of all time," Johns said.

"I don't think anyone over their rugby league career, consistently did so many freakish things, week in, week out, like Billy Slater."

Billy Slater breaks the Blues’ line.
Billy Slater breaks the Blues’ line.

Famously Slater could have been lost to the game altogether, before his career even started.

Slater opened up on the events that led him from working in Gai Waterhouse's stable to forging one of the great rugby league careers.

"How it (football career) panned out is after I had a stint down here (Sydney) at Gai Waterhouse's stable, I went back home and started playing footy again, and at the end of that year I really gave it a crack," Slater recalls.

"I went through the pre-season - I trained really hard. I got to February and there was only five blokes at training.

"So I went home and had a chat with my old man, and I said, 'I need to go somewhere where I can be seen'; and we made a decision to drive down to Brisbane.

Slater produces the chip kick that led to his brilliant solo try in Game II, 2004.
Slater produces the chip kick that led to his brilliant solo try in Game II, 2004.

"I got in touch with someone at Brisbane Norths, which just so happened to be the Melbourne Storm feeder club, and drove down on the Wednesday.

"I met my teammates on the Friday, which I played a couple of games with - Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith. And four months later Melbourne Storm offered me a contract.

"I'm very proud of the fact that I had to go and opened my own doors, and I didn't wait to get tapped on the shoulder."

Topics:  billy slater darren lockyer maroons nrl rugby league state of origin

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