Billy Slater has given his strongest indication that he won’t join Johnathan Thurston in farewelling State of Origin at Suncorp Stadium next month.
And NSW will have Wednesday night’s second-half collapse against Queensland to blame for another year of having to face the Slater magic.
Playing in his first Origin in 735 days at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night, the Melbourne fullback offered another reminder of why he is arguably the greatest player to wear the No.1 jersey for the Maroons.
The 34-year-old is yet to confirm his plans for next season, but if he was to retire from the NRL or the representative arena, it would leave a massive hole in the Maroons’ generational shift in 2018.
Queensland are already set to be without Thurston next season upon his representative retirement, while his halves partner Cooper Cronk’s future is also uncertain.
But after having a hand in the match-winning Dane Gagai try in game two, Slater said he was looking less and less likely to give it away at the end of the season.
“There’s more chance than not that I’ll play on next year,” Slater said.
“At the moment, I’m feeling really good, the body is in a really healthy spot and I’m enjoying my football.
“I really enjoy playing for Queensland, so I’d like to think that if I did play on next year, I’d play for Queensland again.”
Slater has scored 12 tries in 28 matches for Queensland, contributing to seven series wins since his Origin debut in 2004.
He has also played in 17 victories, however few were as special as Wednesday night’s come-from-behind 18-16 success to keep hopes of an 11th series win in 12 years alive.
Slater was in tears after the match, capping off a return from back-to-back career-threatening shoulder surgeries.
And he admitted that reminder of the Origin emotion was helping convince him to play on another year.
“This is certainly a great feeling after what I’ve been through to come out and be involved in this,” Slater said.
“I honestly didn’t know if I was going to play another game of football, let alone be at ANZ Stadium in front of a packed house and be involved in an Origin match like that.”