Billy Slater won the origin man of series last year despite only playing two games.
Billy Slater won the origin man of series last year despite only playing two games.

Slater clause: NRL acts to avoid a silly Billy medal

The NRL has stepped in to ensure no repeat of the 2018 Origin farce which saw Queensland fullback Billy Slater awarded the Wally Lewis Medal despite only playing two games of the series. Subscribe to the Daily Telegraph for the latest news, sport and entertainment.

Queensland fullback Slater was awarded the Wally Lewis Medal in 2018, despite only playing two games and the Maroons only winning a game after NSW had sealed the series.

The judges - Australian coach Mal Meninga and Kangaroos selectors Darren Lockyer and Laurie Daley - will meet Tuesday, almost a year on from the Slater fiasco, with NRL official Frank Puletua to discuss a system to choose the award winner.

 

 

Billy Slater (right) of the Maroons is presented with the player of the series medal by Wally Lewis (left) after Game 3 of the 2018 State of Origin series. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Billy Slater (right) of the Maroons is presented with the player of the series medal by Wally Lewis (left) after Game 3 of the 2018 State of Origin series. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

 

 

Meninga, Lockyer and Daley voted on a three-two-one basis for both games one and two, which were awarded to Dane Gagai and Jake Trbojevic respectively, and that process will continue Wednesday night.

But those points will not be used as part of the criteria to judge the eventual player of the series award. That will now come down to a discretionary vote from each of three former Test and Origin champions.

It is understood Meninga, Lockyer and Daley will hold a phone hook-up today. Puletua could not be contacted yesterday afternoon.

 

 

James Tedesco is the frontrunner for the 2019 Wally Lewis Medal after two games. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
James Tedesco is the frontrunner for the 2019 Wally Lewis Medal after two games. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

 

The system change will essentially safeguard against a player winning the award who has not contested all three games after Slater's win last year attracted a wave of backlash.

NSW had several players overlooked - Boyd Cordner, James Tedesco, Damien Cook and Tom Trbojevic.

Tedesco is a frontrunner again for this year's award.

NSW coach Brad Fittler was adamant a Blues player deserved the accolade last year.

"It was Mal Meninga, Locky and Laurie Daley. They obviously had their reasons to give it to Billy. That's their job," Fittler said.

"They are in a position to give out an award and these awards hold a certain place with players.

"The fact we won meant I didn't really care but we had a few players I thought across the three games did a better job. That would have been nice."

 

Jake Trbojevic has been strong for the Blues in both games this series. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images
Jake Trbojevic has been strong for the Blues in both games this series. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images

 

 

 

Fittler nominated Tedesco as a strong and worthy candidate after two games of the series.

He was brilliant in game one in Brisbane, superb again in Perth and is pumped for a match winner Wednesday night.

Meninga, Daley and Lockyer could still vote for a player who didn't play in all three games but it would now seem unlikely - especially on a losing team.

Those close to the ballot system claim the three ex-players will vote on the player who has been the best and most influential in the series.

NSW utility forward Jake Trbojevic has also been strong games one and two.

"He's been really good the first two games, and so has Teddy," Tom Trbojevic said.

"We've got to win the game to give us a chance of those sorts of accolades and that's what we'll focus on first.

'It's an extra incentive to get the job done."

Fittler added: "Teddy has been great. Jake was great in both games."