Billy Slater played through the pain of a busted shoulder in the first two State of Origin games in 2015 and was not about to make the same mistake with a niggling hamstring injury.
Slater made the call to pull out of Wednesday's match, which was to double as his representative farewell in front of his hometown Melbourne fans, after waking up sore on Monday.
Playing it safe: Billy Slater speaks after arriving in Melbourne on Monday.
The 35-year-old remains hopeful of reclaiming the Queensland fullback's spot for game two in Sydney on June 24 but stopped short of declaring himself a certainty.
"I pulled up a bit tight from training [on Sunday]. It was nothing too alarming but I just wanted to see how it felt this morning," Slater said.
"I've never had a hamstring injury before so I haven't had anything to measure it off.
"I went on the recommendation of the physio and doctor and what was best for not only myself but the team as well.
"I've made the mistake of playing whilst injured in the past and I certainly regret that. I wanted to make the right decision this time.
"It's really tricky because I don't feel overly injured. There's tightness, it's slightly sore, but not a big strain. It's in a position if I do go out and play and do it properly I could be out for a long period of time.
"It's a tough one for me because I've played with pain before, but that's not the issue, it's more the repercussions of playing with this strain. If I pulled up bit tight from a 40-minute training session, with an 80-minute Origin, who knows what could happen.
"The last thing I want is to go out there, play 20 minutes then come off and sit on sideline and leave us with 16 men."
Slater went into the opening two games in 2015 with a serious shoulder injury and announced almost straight after game two that year he would require season-ending surgery.
He would not be drawn on the debate over who should replace him, with Michael Morgan expected to get the nod ahead of teen sensation Kalyn Ponga.
He announced last week this series would be his last, which caps the end of a wonderful era that featured recently retired rep stars Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.
Slater did not inform his teammates about his hamstring until they were departing camp at Sanctuary Cove.
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