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Billy Slater, Queensland Maroons coach, 2022 series

By Simon Brunsdon and Brett Graham

State of Origin great Billy Slater has won the race to coach Queensland from 2022, with confirmation he’ll take charge for the next two years.

Slater replaces Paul Green in the role, after the former Cowboys premiership coach told the QRL he was keen to pursue a return to club coaching, opting not to take up an option that would have given him a second year at the helm of the Maroons.

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Green’s Maroons lost 2-1 to NSW this year in a campaign that was at times considered a disaster.

They had lost the series by the end of Game Two on the back of two demoralising scorelines.

Slater, now 38, played 31 Origin games for Queensland and was an integral part of the Maroons dominance from 2006 onwards.

“I feel very honoured to have this role put in front of me,” Slater told TODAY.

“It comes with a lot of responsibility. But like yourself, Karl, I grew up being inspired by this team and then I got the opportunity to become one of those players and now I get the chance to help guide and shape our current and future Queenslanders to go on.”

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Slater explained that he wasn’t worried by his lack of coaching experience, his answer leaving the door ajar for supercoach Wayne Bennett to take on a mentoring role next year.

“It’s something that I’m comfortable with,” he said.

“I’m not teaching medicine. I’m not trying to build a rocket or anything like that. I’m coaching football and it is what I know best. I have been involved in the game since I was a 4-year-old little boy.

“I have coached individuals and at the Melbourne Storm and also within Queensland. No, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think it is really important for me to do it my way.

“Yes, we are going to assemble a strong coaching staff around me but it is important that I go in there and do it my way and not try and be someone else that has been successful or someone else that has coached Queensland.”

Incoming QRL chief executive officer Rohan Sawyer said it was an easy decision to appoint Slater.

“Once we determined it was in our best interests to secure a coach who could provide leadership to a young playing group over multiple series, Billy was the stand out option,” Sawyer said.

“We’re delighted to secure the services of such a passionate Queenslander, and we’re now very much looking forward to planning for the future and providing as much support for Billy as possible to help set him up for success.”

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