Slater breaks silence on Storm feud
BILLY Slater has broken his silence on explosive allegations of a rift with Storm teammate Cameron Smith as the Maroons champion prepares for his Origin swansong at Suncorp Stadium this Wednesday.
Speaking at his official captain's press conference at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast, Slater insists his 15-year friendship with Smith and former Storm colleague Cooper Cronk remains intact.
Slater and Smith were rocked by a media report that relations between the pair have become strained following a purported fallout between Slater's wife Nicole and Smith's partner Barbara.
The rift allegedly reached a flashpoint during last year's World Cup campaign when Australian players were permitted to invite their partners and children for a pre-tournament holiday to Fiji.
It is claimed that Smith has distanced himself from Slater and has rejected the fullback's advances to sort out any differences. Asked about claims the pair have fallen out as teammates and family friends, Slater moved to set the record straight.
"I've got no problems with Cam," Slater said ahead of his 31st and final game for Queensland in Origin III.
"Cam and I are fine, Cooper and I are fine.
"I'm not going to stand here and gossip about other people's relationships.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm OK with everyone."
Slater's response comes just a week after Cronk sensationally snubbed Smith on the field following the Roosters-Storm clash at Adelaide Oval. While Cronk was seen warmly hugging his former Storm teammates, he only offered Smith a cold handshake when the pair crossed paths.
It is understood Smith is disappointed at Cronk for walking out on the Melbourne Storm and breaking the Big Three alliance with Slater. Smith subsequently declined to attend Cronk's wedding as he said his vows to Fox Sports presenter Tara Rushton.
Pressed on whether he is disappointed the allegations have reached the public domain, Slater replied: "Like I said I am not going to talk about anyone else's relationship, mine is fine."
Before Origin I in Melbourne, Slater and Smith were seen happily chatting at the MCG at Queensland's captain's run 24 hours before the series opener.
Slater said he hadn't spoken directly to Smith about captaining Queensland in Origin III, but is adamant he has learnt some valuable lessons watching his long-time club, Test and Origin skipper in action.
"I am going to go out there and do my job, I haven't spoken about captaincy with anyone really," Slater said.
"I've learnt a lot as a captain just watching Cam and playing under Darren Lockyer (former Maroons skipper).
"They are great leaders of men and I will work it out myself."
Injured skipper Greg Inglis arrived in Camp Maroon this morning to boost Queensland spirits and Slater says he is relishing the prospect of leading the Maroons onto Suncorp Suncorp in his emotional finale.
"It's good to have Greg in camp that's for sure," he said. "Our preparation is pretty much done, today is a day off so the boys just want to relax and get away from footy. We will go to Brisbane today and it gets pretty serious this afternoon.
"I hope I can play my part for the team, that's my role. I have always contributed as much as I can and this is no different.
"I won't try and be someone I'm not or try and do someone else's job because I'm captain. I want to perform my role and hopefully we have 17 contributors and we come away with the win, that's the ideal scenario."