Slater ruled out against Knights
Fans will have to keep waiting for a highly-anticipated match-up between Maroons veteran Billy Slater and future Queensland custodian Kalyn Ponga after the former was officially scratched from his team's Sunday afternoon trip to Newcastle due to a hamstring injury.
Slater was on light training through the week and has failed to sufficiently recover in time to take part in what would have been his first hit-out since round 11 and final chance to press his claims for selection in the second game of the Holden State of Origin series.
"We made a big decision this afternoon in consultation with the medical staff and Billy that we are not going to play him this Sunday," Storm football manager Frank Ponissi said.
"He's been training really well trying to build that strength in his leg.
"He could have played but there's still a slight risk he could re-injure it and if he does re-injure it that is going to put him out for a number of other weeks."
The club said Slater was close to making his return on Sunday and is still expected to be given the all-clear for Origin II in Sydney to be played on June 24.
"It was awfully close (to playing this Sunday)," Ponissi said.
"He will be right to play in Origin 2, it was still a slight risk with the hamstring so we've decided to rest him this particular weekend."
The Storm do welcome back suspended duo Curtis Scott and Will Chambers in place of Young Tonumaipea and Cheyse Blair in the centres.
Coach Craig Bellamy said it has created some good internal competition for places during the Origin period.
"It's nice to be having those guys back," Bellamy said.
"The other couple of guys have done a great job, certainly Young, he's played six of our last eight games. It was a tough decision to leave him out to be quite honest. Cheyse only had the one game but played really strongly. It's good for those guys to be putting pressure on the others."
Ill-discipline has plagued the Storm this season, with Chambers, Scott, Cameron Smith and Sam Kasiano all getting suspended.
Bellamy says he's continued to remind his squad about the consequences if they misbehave on the field, as well as applauding the new NRL rule change about the use of the sin bin for foul play.
"That's been said a couple of times and obviously fell on deaf ears," he said.
"With the use of the sin bin now with foul play, I just hope they are sensible decisions. At the end of the day, there's still going to be some grey areas.
"There's always going to be those moments, but like anything, [we just want it to] be consistent. I think it is a really good idea to do what they're doing. Those dog shots – we've been guilty for a couple of those ourselves, so we don't want those in the game."
And has 20-year-old Scott changed his ways after his fracas with Manly's Dylan Walker?
"I haven't seen him punch anyone since that game he got sent off, so hopefully he's learned his lesson," Bellamy said.