Why Slater as Queensland coach is ‘not easy’
Queensland State of Origin great Darren Lockyer says there’s no doubt Billy Slater has the credentials to coach the side, but he’s identified one big challenge.
Slater confirmed earlier this week that he was in discussions with the QRL over the summer, admitting he was “taken aback” when the idea was first raised.
The 38-year-old said he told QRL boss Bruce Hatcher he wasn’t interested after speculation about who would coach the Maroons turned into a “circus”.
Paul Green eventually got the job, although his future in the role is under increased scrutiny in the wake of Queensland’s dismal showing in the opening two matches of the series.
The Maroons have been blown off the park by NSW, who have won the two matches by a combined score of 76-6. Former Blues coach Phil Gould said on 100% Footy that he expects Green to be axed ahead of the 2022 series.
“They will be making a change, he won’t be going around next year,” Gould said.
Speaking on the Wide World of Sports show QLDER, Lockyer said Slater was an obvious choice to coach the side down the track.
“You can just listen to him on the TV, he’s go the smarts, he knows the game, he breaks it down,” he said.
“If I look back to my experience with Mal (Meninga), when Mal walked into the room, he had an aura, people listened to him and that’s because of his playing record at Origin level.
“If you transfer that into Billy, his record is just as good, if not better.”
Slater last played for Queensland in his final season in the NRL, in 2018, having represented the Maroons in 31 matches, and playing a key role in the side’s record-breaking run of 11 series wins in 12 years.
But according to Lockyer, the fact he’s only been out of the game for three years might be the one factor that counts against Slater.
“The only thing you would ask, is some of these players he’d be coaching have actually played footy with him,” Locker explained.
“That’s not always an easy gig.
“Billy would walk into a room and have the upmost respect of everyone in the room because of what he’s done on the field.
“I’m not saying it can’t be done, I just think that’s the one challenge you have.
“There’s no doubt, his playing record and his knowledge of the game, and the way he sees the game, there’s no doubt he’s a coach.”
While Green’s future could be on the line in Game Three of the series, another former Queensland great, Sam Thaiday, believes there’s little to be gained by dumping Green after just three matches.
Since State of Origin moved the a three match series in 1982, only Des Morris in 1985 has been replaced as Queensland coach after a single series in charge.
“I think it’s super hard to judge him off the one series,” Thaiday said.
“It’s been a bit of a weird series as well, a game in Townsville, a game on the Gold Coast, there’s been a lot of injuries.
“I think he gets every opportunity to go again next year.
“Hopefully circumstances are a bit different next year, a settled season will really help him out.”
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