Slater’s commitment to a new term bestows a significant advantage to the Maroons and his return for the 2024, possibly 2025, seasons was confirmed following discussions between his management and Queensland Rugby League chief, Ben Ikin, last Thursday.
Concerns had arisen that Slater might step away, particularly following Queensland’s 24-10 defeat against NSW in last month’s third game, which shattered their chances at a 3-0 clean sweep.
However, consecutive series victories have prompted Slater to prolong his stint as Queensland’s coach, thus securing stability for Maroons‘ Origin project whilst heaping more discomfort on a beleaguered Blues squad.
Preliminary discussions took place in Brisbane between Ikin and Slater’s manager, George Mimis. As a result, it was confirmed that the 31-game Origin fullback legend will return to Camp Maroon next season to plot a Queensland treble.
“Billy’s wish to continue coaching the Maroons have been confirmed,” said Ikin, “We’ll now delve into the details of exactly how this will work, for both Billy and the QRL.”
Slater, 40, is believed to be eager to secure an agreement extending further than a 12-month period, indicating he will be in command of the Maroons until at least the end of 2025.
The QRL is open to a longer three-year term, given their satisfaction with Slater’s progression from a novice to a series-winning coach. This will be finalised in the upcoming months, but one thing is certain – Slater will coach Queensland next year.
Slater’s continued tenure to coach the Maroons carries significant consequences for his coaching staff, with important figures such as Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, and Josh Hannay predicted to remain as assistants.
Cameron Smith, the most prolific Origin player with 42 appearances, holds the belief that Slater is emulating the success of Queensland’s legendary coach, Mal Meninga. “He has definitely developed the same aura that Mal Meninga had,” Smith stated.
Rumours of Slater’s success don’t surprise Smith who is acutely aware of Slater’s commitment and contribution to the game. “Having known Billy as a close friend and teammate, I am well acquainted with his conscientious approach to his work,” Smith added.
As the coach of the Maroons, Slater has won four out of six games. His keen attention to detail and talent for fostering team harmony have been praised by the Maroons players. The NRL veteran has introduced a fresh group of Maroons to the game including promising names like Selwyn Cobbo, Murray Taulagi, Jeremiah Nanai, Reuben Cotter, Pat Carrigan, and Tom Dearden.
Cotter, this year’s Wally Lewis Medallist, praised Slater’s contribution, saying, “Billy has been nothing less than astonishing for this team. His unique, dynamic style is incredibly motivating”.