THE greatest coach in Origin history has delivered a stunning take on one of Queensland's best ever as Billy Slater pushes to return to the interstate cauldron.

Kevin Walters declared fitting Storm champion Billy Slater back into his Queensland side the "hardest decision I've had to make since being in the Origin system".

Predecessor Mal Meninga has made it easy for him - leaving the 27-time Maroons rep out of his game one 17 for the series opener in a fortnight's time.

While Walters has indicated he won't pick Slater on the wing it's believed Broncos skipper Darius Boyd will shift back to the left flank where he rose to become the most prolific try-scorer in Origin history.

Current Kangaroos coach Meninga, however, says Slater must still bide his time as he returns from two successive shoulder reconstructions, mirroring his decision to leave the 33-year-old out of his own Australian line-up for the recent Anzac Test.

"I'm not quite sure if it's a surprise, but I've just gone with combinations," Meninga revealed in naming his Maroons team on Queenslanders Only.

"Obviously from the Kangaroo game as well just recently against the Kiwis (and) talking about combinations from last year.

"Billy wasn't there, so I've still got Justin O'Neill in there. I thought he did a terrific job for the Maroons last year on the right side."

Rather than including Slater, Meninga plumped for Sharks sensation and Kangaroos incumbent Val Holmes to make his Origin debut on one wing, while also finding room for Brisbane's Corey Oates on a "dynamic bench".


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