New Queensland coach Billy Slater is ready for the critics after being appointed to his first ever coaching role
Queensland great Billy Slater says he’ll coach “my way” after being thrust into his first ever coaching role with the Maroons.
The “kid” from Innisfail in far north Queensland has grown from Maroons supporter, to player and now coach after a stunning playing career with the Melbourne Storm, Queensland and Australia.
But the 38-year-old has never been a coach, and will step into the hot seat vacated by Paul Green, who quit after just one series in charge which the Maroons lost.
Slater, who played 31 times for Queensland, said he knows there will be doubters, but he’ll attack the role with the same work ethic and professionalism which drive his playing career.
Having worked as a Maroons selector and mentor, Slater said he was ready to take the next step and guide Queensland to State of Origin success.
“I understand there will be people with opinions that I have never coached a footy team before and that’s correct,” he said.
“But I’m not teaching physics, I’m not building a rocket, I’m coaching a football team. It’s what I know best and I think it’s really important for me to do it my way.
“At the end of the day, I’m a Queenslander. This team means a lot to me. It always has. It has been a big part of my life for the majority of my life and now I get the opportunity to help other people not only fulfil their dream, but inspire a whole state.
“We’ve got 5.5 million people in this state and they all look up to this team – that brings a lot of responsibility ”
Slater could bring former Queensland and Storm teammate Cameron Smith back into the fold as an assistant. He said he was yet to make any decisions in that space.
“I thought it was important that I had to commit first, then we’ll put the pieces of the puzzle together,” he said.
“Over the next little period, we’ll build a support staff around the players that will best assist the players to play at their optimal.
“It would be irresponsible not to lean on some great people around the Queensland State of Origin team that have been there in the past; that have been successful.
“But I need to be my own coach and we’ll work out what that looks like.”
Slater was confident the current crop of Queensland players in the NRL was able to come together well enough to turn the tables on NSW after this year’s series loss.
“I am not naive to the fact we are up against a really good team, but we have a really good team as well,” he said.
“This isn’t just a three-week job, this is a job that will run throughout the whole season, even through the pre-season. There will be contact with all players, with the emerging players. Hopefully I can play a small part in developing those guys to get there.”
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails