Cameron Smith, who used to play for the Maroons, said that Selwyn Cobbo, a young player for the Broncos, has caught the eye of Queensland coach Billy Slater.
The 19-year-old has gotten better as the season has gone on. During the Broncos’ 38-0 win over the Manly Sea Eagles, he scored a hat trick.
Smith said on SEN 1170 Breakfast, “Billy Slater is the boss, and you never give orders up; they come down.”
“You can’t ignore the form he is in at the moment and some of the things he can bring to the football side.”
Cobbo has scored nine tries in 17 games for the Broncos since his debut in 2021 and is reportedly being chased by up to eight clubs as he decides his NRL future.
Coming off a comfortable victory against the Sea Eagles, the Broncos will be eager to claim five wins on the trot when they travel down to Newcastle for their clash against the Knights on Thursday night.
QUEENSLAND ENFORCER REVEALS SHOCK SLATER SNUB
Moeaki Fotuaika played in all three State of Origin games in 2021, but he hasn’t talked to the new coaching staff for the Maroons in the weeks leading up to this year’s series.
The speedy Titan said this just hours after the new coach of the Queensland Cowboys, Billy Slater, said that he was keeping an eye on uncapped forwards Jeremiah Nanai, Heilum Luki, and Reuben Cotter for Game One on June 8.
Concerns about Covid-19 caused Queensland to cancel its pre-season camp, so Slater decided to talk to the Origin hopefuls through Zoom.
One of the players called up was Fotuaika, but he said he hadn’t heard from Slater since.
“Since the beginning of the year, I haven’t talked to anyone about Origin or anything else like that,” he said.
It was only a Zoom chat… Other than that, nothing has happened.”
Fotuaika’s performance in Magic Round might change that. The prop forward ran for 213 metres and made 35 tackles in Gold Coast’s golden-point win over the St. George-Illawarra Dragons.
Fotuaika got two Dally M points for his huge effort, which helped the Titans end a five-game losing streak
Fotuaika said that he was more worried about staying in shape for the Titans than about whether or not he would get to wear the Maroon jersey again this year.
He said, “I don’t really think about it.”
“At the Titans, I just try to do my job, which is to play good football every week.
“I don’t have to worry about anything else. I’m not thinking about the future; I’m only thinking about the present.”
Brad Fittler, the coach of NSW, had said before that Cam Murray’s replacement was likely to be someone with Origin experience. However, Slater didn’t seem to mind putting in rookies in the first game of the triptych.
He said that in the first ten rounds of the season, he had noticed more than one Cowboy who didn’t have a cap.
“The Cowboys have taken the competition by storm,” he told SEN.
“(Jeremiah) Nanai, (Heilum) Luki, Reuben Cotter, and Tom Dearden, some of the younger guys, are all doing a great job.
“Their more experienced players, like Kyle Feldt and Valentine Holmes, are doing well even though the rest of the team is young.”
Slater said that all players who could play for Queensland would be considered.
He said, “I have a list of every Queenslander on an NRL book.”
“I know who the Queenslanders are and what they do on the field.”
Slater said that he and the rest of his coaching staff would also look at Fotuaika’s past performance, which could be good news for him.
Slater said, “You have to earn every chance to play for Queensland.”
“What you’ve done before is definitely taken into account.
“You’ll fall back on the things you do every week.
“The habits you’re making in the game are really important.
“It will show me, the selectors, and everyone else in Queensland how badly you want to play,” he said.
ADVICE DRIVING MAROONS YOUNG GUN
Reece Walsh says that Maroons coach Billy Slater’s advice has pushed him to improve his defence and put himself in the running for a State of Origin debut after last year’s disappointment.
The 19-year-old defender for the Warriors, Kalyn Ponga, is in the running to be Queensland’s No. 1 player. He was going to play fullback in game two last year, but he hurt his hamstring during the captain’s run.
From that experience and from talking to Slater about where he needed to lift, he learned a lot about how to get ready.
Walsh misses about two tackles per game on average, and he wants to get that number down to around one, like the best fullbacks do. This year, James Tedesco has missed 0.9 tackles on average.
“In the captain’s run before Origin last year, I tore my hamstring. Now, I make sure to stretch every time I get to a captain’s run. So it doesn’t happen again, I make sure everything I do is perfect,” Walsh said.
“Browny (Nathan Brown) and I have worked hard on my defence, and it’s an area where I’ve really grown.
“I talked to Billy, and he told me to keep getting better at defence and to keep working on myself in every way. If I can get better with each game, I think it will help my team no matter what. One of the things Billy talked to me about was this.
Last year, Slater, who was one of Queensland’s best fullbacks ever, was a Maroons selector and was willing to back Walsh at the selection table. He has been helping Walsh in the background and likes how the teen acts.
“Over the course of Reece’s career, I’ve done a few things with him and talked to him,” Slater said.
“I think very highly of him. He is a great young man with a strong desire to do well in the NRL.
“There’s a lot involved in being a fullback. We see how good Reece is at all the shiny things. When he first came on the scene last year, he brought that up, but he’s been working on a lot of things that really help teams behind the scenes. He’s going in the right direction.”
Ponga’s first Origin game was in 2018, when he came off the bench and played in the middle of the field instead of his preferred spot. Walsh said he would do the same thing in any of the 17 countries.
“Ponga just went out and played soccer, and I feel like I’m in the same situation. Walsh said, “If Billy picks me, I’ll play anywhere for Queensland.
“I feel like I know a fair amount about rugby league, and I’ve played in a lot of different positions. When Kurt Richards was my coach for the Queensland 18s, I came off the bench and played lock in the middle of the field in one game.
“If I had the chance to wear the Maroons jersey, I would do it for my family and my state. I promise I’d give it my all on the field and not let them down.”
Slater played with Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, and a lot of other Maroons who didn’t play in their club position when they lined up for Origin.
Slater said, “You go in with an open mind and pick your best team.”
“It’s great when players play in the position they’ll play in State of Origin, but I’ve played with some great players who could move around.”
Walsh is just happy to be able to work with Slater.
“Billy was an example for me to follow. I watched him do everything on the paddock. “I remember it from when I was a kid,” he said.
“When I talk to him now, I realise that he is one of the smartest people I have ever met in rugby league. He is a great coach and an even better person.