Maroons coach Billy Slater has welcomed the introduction of Michael Maguire to the State of Origin arena after seeing Brad Fittler leave after two series losses. Slater has masterminded back-to-back series wins for his state, despite many tipping the Blues to win in 2022 and 2023.
Maguire has a huge job ahead of him of dispelling the frustration of Blues fans with a number of positions up for grabs, including James Tedesco's captaincy and fullback position. And Slater has given his candid verdict on Maguire - who he was spent time coaching under - and said he wouldn't be focusing on his counterpart when the two teams reignite their bitter state rivalry.
“He’s a great coach,” Slater told The Courier Mail after the news. “I’ve been coached under Michael Maguire, and some of his assistants that he’s bringing on have been involved in some footy teams that I’ve been involved in.
“The great thing about what Queensland have been able to do over the last couple of years is really focus on ourselves – focus on who we’re playing for, our people and those guys that have really earned the opportunity to represent Queensland over the last two season have done a great job."
The legendary fullback had the Maroons firing last year with the Blues blown away in the must-win Game II clash. Brad Fittler was criticised for a number of bizarre selections in his final series, but Maguire has admitted the team will be picked on form, leaving Tedesco fighting for the fullback position.
Michael Maguire challenges Blues players to lift
After his appointment on Thursday, Maguire admitted any New South Wales player has the opportunity to grab a representative jersey in 2024. This will put a number of incumbent players on notice for the new season.
"I'm looking forward to just letting the players go out and play now. I’ll have discussions to be able to find ideas around what’s going to best work for NSW and the squad, but I’m also going to say to them 'go out and enjoy yourselves and play your best footy', and when the time’s right, we’ll have to pick a team," he said when unveiled as the Blues coach on Thursday.
Tedesco admitted he was one of those players that needed to lift his game. Ahead of the 2024 season, the fullback was looking to get a better start with the Roosters to once again appear in the State of Origin arena. "It's always that every year. The best player in the competition should get the role," he said to Channel Nine. "It's not my position or anyone else position."
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