Barnaby Joyce puts his hand up to replace Billy Slater, guarantees coach Walters he never pulls out
by David Beauchamps
Queensland’s preparation ahead of game one was thrown into chaos this week with legendary fullback Billy Slater withdrawing due to injury two days out from the first game of the series in Melbourne.
Coupled with the retirements in the last twelve months of the entire Maroon’s spine it leaves a gaping hole in Queensland’s Origin experience and class.
Names thrown up to replace Slater so far have included bench utility Michael Morgan, Knights sensation Kalyn Ponga, and Anthony Milford.
All are considered legitimate contenders, however, this morning a suggestion came from way out of left field.
The ex-Queensland senator and current member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, is said to have phoned coach Kevin Walters to put his name in the hat to play fullback for the Maroons, telling Kevvie he won’t let them down like Slater, as he “never ever pulls out the last minute”.
Though born in New South Wales, Joyce feels no shame in turning his back on his state, as he has already done the same thing to his family. He has also held dual-citizenship with New Zealand, which is pretty much all you need to represent Queensland in footy anyway.
His age and fitness levels are understood to be of no concern, as he likes to get out and play in the odd charity match, and he regularly gets his heart rate up over 120 whenever working late with a young staffer.