Billy Slater will lead Queensland in Origin III.
Billy Slater will lead Queensland in Origin III. DARREN ENGLAND

Hodges says Slater holds key to success

PLAYING with special players, you understand why they're so good.

People think it's just talent alone, but it comes down to how much you want to dig in and get the best out of yourself.

Billy Slater has been able to do that through his work ethic. He was always trying to develop his game, get better and better.

You see how much work they do in their recovery.

I remember a few times when Billy was under an injury cloud and he'd be up all night icing his leg just to try and make sure he was there for the team.

We saw that in Origin II - he hadn't played in six weeks but came out and was outstanding.

Billy Slater gets a pass away during game two of this year's series. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Billy Slater made a difference for the Maroons when he returned in game two. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Billy's one of those guys I really looked forward to playing with. I liked to bounce across the field and always knew he was going to be up the middle - a little combination we built over a long time playing for Queensland.

But what makes Billy a true champion is the way he also motivates others - the way he trains, the way he talks. That's his best quality.

It's a shame Greg Inglis can't be out there, but it's a great honour for Billy to be named captain for his last game in the maroon jersey. He deserves it.

It goes without saying, but there's plenty of motivation for the Maroons on Wednesday night.

Billy Slater is seen during the Queensland Maroons team training session at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort on the Gold Coast, Thursday, July 5, 2018. Queensland are in camp to prepare for game three of the 2018 State of Origin series against the NSW Blues. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt) NO ARCHIVING
Billy Slater stretches out before joining in a training run. GLENN HUNT

It is a dead rubber, but you don't want to lose the series 3-0, especially playing at home.

And I'm pretty sure the boys will come firing. State of Origin careers are also on the line.

Picking Daly Cherry-Evans at No.7 was a bit of a left-field one.

I thought Ash Taylor should have gotten a run due to the way he's been playing for the Titans.

It may have been timely to give blokes such as Taylor or Joe Ofahengaue a taste of what Origin is all about. You want to look to the future a little bit.

But at the end of the day, it's all about winning. And the Maroons probably lacked a bit of experience in the halves at those crucial times in game two when the series was still on the line.

That's why Kevvie Walters and the selectors have gone with DCE - to provide a bit of composure. Someone with a steady head who can take control of our kicks, put them in the corner and make the Blues work the ball out that much harder.

Ben Hunt of the Maroons sits on the pitch as NSW Blues players celebrate winning Game 2 of the 2018 State of Origin series between the NSW Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, June 24, 2018. (AAP Image/David Moir) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Ben Hunt feels the pain after the second State of Origin game. DAVID MOIR

He's been benched, but I'm sure Ben Hunt will get his time again.

You can't just replace a Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, or Johnathan Thurston. Fans are used to having success, but we are dealing with different players and different combinations.

People have to understand it takes time for them to gel.

Jarrod Wallace is another who has copped some heat.

He's just got to make sure he doesn't play the game too early in his head and that he really rips in, which is what we've always known him to do.

And if the players are tired, all they've got to do is look around and see Billy, see the crowd, and they'll know what's at stake.