‘Am I in trouble?” Maroons young star stunned by coach Billy’s sideline visit

Queensland speed-demon Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow thought he’d been sent to the headmaster’s office when coach Billy Slater ventured to the sideline for a heart-to-heart during the State of Origin series opener.

Jun 06, 2024, updated Jun 06, 2024
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow of the Maroons makes a break to score a try during Game 1 of the State of Origin 2024

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow of the Maroons makes a break to score a try during Game 1 of the State of Origin 2024

The 22-year-old flyer – who plays his club football at fullback for the Dolphins – was asked to switch from centre in the eighth minute of Wednesday night’s 38-10 win over NSW, after a high shot by NSW centre Joseph Suaalii on Reece Walsh ruled the Maroons’ starting No.1 out of the match with concussion.

Queensland went up 8-0 shortly after Tabuai-Fidow, known as ‘Hammer’, switched to his regular-season Dolphins role, but then his opposite number James Tedesco scored from a kick while the Maroons man was nowhere in the picture .

Not long after, Slater made his way pitchside.

“Johnno (assistant coach Johnathan Thurston) came over and said, ‘Billy wants to talk to you on the sideline’. I said, ‘Sweet, am I in trouble?’,” Tabuai-Fidow said.

“He gave me a few pointers and I tried to stick to that.

“Billy said, ‘Go out there and have fun’, but also (spoke about) my defence.

“I had to work on that … to have trust in the boys and get my numbers right.

“I play fullback in clubland and am used to it, but it was a bit quicker (in Origin). I went back out and did my job.”

Slater said the idea of heading down from the coach’s box and onto the sideline to talk to one of his men, a rare occurrence, came to him during captain’s run the day before the match.

“I thought to myself that if that’s needed, that is what I will do. We actually had a talk about that as (coaching) staff,” Slater said.

“When Hammer got thrown back to fullback I thought I could help him with a few things, just having a face-to-face conversation.

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“We can’t plan for everything but that’s one thing I thought would be beneficial to the team, and beneficial to Hammer.”

Tabuai-Fidow, one of the most graceful and fastest players to lace a boot in Origin football, did the rest.

“He did a great job under the high ball and positionally,” Slater said.

“Not just scoring three tries, but he saved just as many. Getting under Spencer Leniu, that’s not easy. He held up James Tedesco.

“He did a wonderful job to adjust to a different position. I know he plays there every week but I thought he was super.”

Tabuai-Fidow enjoyed the carnage he created.

“It is a good feeling, coming down here and getting the win in Sydney,” he said.

“I didn’t know I was going to score three. I just pushed through the middle and the ball ended up in my hands.”

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