Billy Slater responds to Craig Bellamy speculation in huge call on State of Origin future

Slater is aiming to guide Queensland to a third straight Origin series win in 2024.

Maroons coach Billy Slater has reaffirmed his commitment to the Queensland State of Origin role after ruling out his interest in succeeding Craig Bellamy as Melbourne Storm coach. Bellamy's future as Melbourne coach has been a hotly discussed topic over a number of years, and it has once again emerged that 2024 could be his final season in the hot seat at the Storm.

Since 2003, Bellamy has been at the helm of the Storm and each year questions are raised about if he will continue as Melbourne coach. Currently, his future beyond this year is unclear, with Bellamy rumoured to be considering taking up a director of coaching role at Melbourne or even retiring completely at the end of 2024.

Pictured right to left, Maroons mentor Billy Slater and Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
Maroons mentor Billy Slater has brushed off suggestions he could be in line to succeed Craig Bellamy as Storm coach. Pic: Getty

Bellamy is yet to confirm whether he will coach on again in 2025, with assistant coach Jason Ryles one of the frontrunners to succeed the veteran Storm mentor when he eventually does call it a day. However, club legend Slater - who won two premierships in a decorated career for Melbourne - has also been linked heavily with the role off the back of his success at Origin level.

But Slater has often hosed down talk of becoming a full-time NRL coach, and says he enjoys the fact he can juggle his Maroons role with media commitments as well as being able to spend time on his farm with family. And asked if he would consider one day succeeding Bellamy at the Storm if the opportunity arose, Slater said the Maroons job had given him unexpected "fulfilment" and he doesn't plan on giving it up anytime soon.

"I've always had a drive to be as good as I possibly can in whatever I do, whether it's playing, coaching, my commentary role - I plan and prepare for that," he said. "I've always had a self-drive, but I don't really have any set goals on what I want to achieve as a coach.

"I'm really enjoying helping this group be as good as they can... it's given me a fulfilment that I probably didn't realise it would give me. Just how proud I am of a group of people that go out and achieve something and actually helping them do that, become the best that they can be. The people who we're representing are so important and that's not lost to these players, so helping them do that is certainly an honour."

Billy Slater says no succession plan in place at Maroons

Slater appeared alongside Maroons and Storm hooker Harry Grant at Tuesday's State of Origin launch at the MCG, and also answered questions about the future of Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans. The Manly and Maroons skipper is 35 but is playing some of the best footy of his career and has led Queensland superbly in their three series victories in the last four years. And Slater says as long as DCE keeps performing, he doesn't have to worry about a succession plan for the Maroons' captaincy.

"I don't think Daly's giving it away any time soon, he's playing some great footy," Slater said. "He's doing a great job for Manly, and his performance is his key attribute. That's the number one trait of a great leader, their performance in their position."

Seen here, Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans.
Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans has led the Maroons in two successive State of Origin series wins. Pic: Getty


Grant has loomed as DCE's likely successor as Maroons captain after being appointed Storm skipper by Bellamy this season. While Kangaroos rake Grant is widely regarded as the best No.9 in the game, Slater stressed that he still needed to earn his spot in the squad for the Origin series opener in Sydney on June 5, and that he had no captaincy succession plan in place for Grant at the Maroons.

"I'm not big on succession plans when it comes to representative football," Slater said. "I think you earn the right to play in the jersey. There's a number of great leaders within the Queensland State of Origin team, and to be honest, if you're representing Queensland at this level, you're probably a leader in some way anyway. So that'll naturally take its course, that'll naturally happen, so I don't think it's appropriate to go and try and create leaders as a succession plan."

with AAP