NRL 2023: Slater signs new deal to remain Maroons coach

Billy Slater has put any potential NRL coaching ambitions to the side after he signed a new three-year deal to stay on as Queensland coach in a huge boost to the Maroons who are on the verge of inflicting another reign of terror on NSW.

Just when it looked like the Blues were ready to start their own dynasty, Slater arrived as a rookie coach in 2022 and has since guided them to back-to-back series wins despite being rank outsiders.

Slater played 31 games for the Maroons and was a part of the dynasty that won eight series in a row, and the flashy fullback now has the chance to make more history with a young squad that looks set to dominate for years to come.

The 40-year-old hasn’t been afraid to make big calls with Slater picking young gun Reece Walsh over Dally M winner Kalyn Ponga which proved to be an Origin masterstroke, and he says the Maroons are “only getting started”.

“It’s an incredible honour to be the Queensland coach. I’m excited about the journey that this current group of players and staff have embarked upon,” Slater said.

“I believe they are only getting started. From the very beginning, I was drawn to this role because I deeply understand the importance of this team to all Queenslanders.

“I’m a proud Queenslander and this team means a lot to me. It has been a massive part of my life and I’m extremely grateful to get the opportunity to help other people, not only fulfil their dream, but inspire our state.”

Slater’s decision to re-sign is a big win for the Queensland Rugby League, with their counterparts down south still trying to sort out the coaching structure for next year.

NSW coach Brad Fittler is expected to stay on but the length of that deal remains a mystery, while he also needs to assemble a new coaching crew with long-time adviser Greg Alexander announcing last week that he won’t be there next year.

Slater’s impressive start to coaching saw him linked to the Storm role if and when Craig Bellamy eventually retires, but Thursday’s contract extension puts an end to that theory and allows him to continue his work in the media with Channel 9.

“To be able to lock in someone of Billy’s calibre is a brilliant outcome for our Origin program and the people who work with and support the Maroons,” QRL chief executive Ben Ikin said.

“Over the past two years we’ve witnessed a team that has made Queenslanders immensely proud, and it’s been Billy’s vision and leadership driving that.

“Our players are not only going to new levels on the field, but their commitment to engaging with our fans across the state has been first class.

“We’re excited to have Billy lead our team for the next three years and we can now step up planning for 2024.”

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