Trending topics

Select your station

We'll remember your choice for next time

“I didn’t see it in my future”: Slater to tap into Maroons history in first coaching role


Melbourne Storm and Queensland great Billy Slater admits he hadn’t envisioned a future in charge of the Maroons.

Slater was last month revealed as the replacement for coach Paul Green, who led the team for only one season.

Having been thrashed 6-50 in Townsville and 0-26 in Brisbane, a 20-18 victory in the final game wasn’t enough to earn Green a contract renewal.

Now Slater will step in to lead his state.

“I didn’t see it in my future five years ago,” Slater told SEN Breakfast.

“It was something that got put in front of me, but to be honest it’s who I am. It means a lot to me, that team and the state of Queensland, and representing Queensland.

“I was one of those kids that was inspired by this State of Origin team when I was growing up, and then I got the opportunity to become one of those players and inspire others.”

From Innisfail in Queensland’s north, Slater made 31 appearances for his state and crossed the line on 12 occasions.

The Maroons won eight of the 12 Origin series in which he featured, including six in a row from 2008 to 2013.

“Now my role will be setting up a team around this group of players, and giving them the opportunity and the tools to go out and inspire a whole state,” he went on.

“There’s a lot of responsibility in coaching Queensland, but at the same time I just need to remind myself it’s a game of footy and it’s what I know best.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

The 38-year-old has already brought Josh Hannay into the Queensland coaching fold.

Once a centre with North Queensland and Cronulla, Hannay served as a caretaker at both the Cowboys and Sharks over the past two seasons.

Slater is only just beginning to build his coaching team however, and hopes to lean on the Maroons’ rich recent history to inspire his players.

“I have made a few phone calls,” he explained.

“I think that’s my most important role at the moment, to get the right people around this group of players.

“We’ve got some great Queenslanders, we had a really successful era there and (I’ll be) tapping into some people that were involved in that.

“Whether that’s Cam (Smith) or even before that, Wayne Bennett and Mal Meninga.

“Some really key Queenslanders that I think will add real value to this group, and just give the players the best opportunity to play well.”

Having had no prior experience leading a team, Slater has strategies to combat any uncertainty or nerves.

“I’m not nervous talking to players, and I’m not nervous doing my job,” he related.

“When our mind starts wandering into results mode, that’s when you start becoming nervous.

“That’s when I need to draw myself back to ‘what am I here to do? What’s important to get that done?’

“To just forget about the results and the enormity of the role, and just remind myself that I’m coaching a group of footballers to play football.”

In addition to his Origin career Slater played in 323 matches for the Melbourne Storm, and represented Australia on 30 occasions.

More in NRL