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Morris plans to face Slater in Origin III

Queensland star Billy Slater might be stuck in Melbourne trying to prove his fitness while his teammates are in camp in Coolum, but Josh Morris says NSW are planning to take on a Maroons side containing the fullback.
Morris plans to face Slater in Origin III
by NRL

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, June 28 AAP - Queensland star Billy Slater might be stuck in Melbourne trying to prove his fitness while his teammates are in camp in Coolum, but Josh Morris says NSW are planning to take on a Maroons side containing the fullback.

Slater played for more than an hour with a torn posterior cruciate ligament in this month's second State of Origin clash in Sydney and is still hoping to run out for next week's series decider in Brisbane.

Queensland back Brent Tate, who's undergone three knee reconstructions, and Sam Thaiday have both cautioned Slater against playing if he's not 100 per cent fit and the 29-year-old has until the weekend to tell coach Mal Meninga if he can play.

Greg Inglis or Matt Bowen are standing by to wear the No.1 jersey should Slater miss out.

However, Morris said until they know otherwise, the Blues will prepare for the game with the Dally M Medallist's presence in mind.

"We're expecting Billy to play," Morris said.

"He's the world's best fullback and he'll be itching to play.

"If he doesn't, then they have two very capable players in GI and Matt Bowen to fill in."

Should Slater miss an Origin for the first time since 2008, it would end a run of 14 successive appearances for the 2011 World Player of the Year in the Maroons jersey.

However, Morris denied his loss would make life easier for Ricky Stuart's side, who are aiming to end a run of six successive series defeats by winning in Brisbane.

He also denied the prospect of not having to mark up against Inglis in the centres would make his life any easier on July 4.

"I don't think too much would change if he doesn't play. I'll just have to tackle someone else," he said.

"There has been a couple of good clashes between me and GI but, if someone else is playing there, then my role will be the same."

While Slater battles with his knee problem, NSW second-rower Glenn Stewart is in a similar position, fighting to overcome a partially-torn medial ligament.

The Manly star ran for the first time on Thursday morning at Kogarah Oval and was assessed by the Blues' medical staff.

A decision is likely to be made on Friday whether he can take his place in the side.

But with prop Trent Merrin released from camp to join up with St George Illawarra and back-rowers Beau Scott and Ben Creagh kept on, the early indications are that Stewart is in danger of missing the game.

Luke Lewis said Stewart is quietly confident of being fit to fly with the squad to Brisbane on Sunday, and giving himself every chance of being available.

"He's been working really hard, doing all his physio and being a real professional and doing everything he can to be right," Lewis said.

"We're all really hopeful that he'll be able to do full training by Friday and, by Sunday, he can be in camp with us in Brisbane.

"He's been doing a lot of little extras while we've not been training to get it right and that's been outstanding."


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