Billy Slater has cast fresh doubts over his future as Queensland State of Origin coach, playing down reports he's signed a contract extension to remain in the role. The Melbourne Storm legend has been an overwhelming success in his two years as Maroons coach, winning back-to-back series over NSW.
Reports emerged this week that Slater has committed to coaching Queensland in 2024 and will likely remain the role in 2025 as well. Queensland Rugby League boss Ben Ikin claimed Slater was ready to sign a contract extension to remain in charge of the Maroons, but Slater has since pumped the breaks on that talk.
Queensland last won three-consecutive series between 2015 and 2017 when Slater was playing. The Maroons hierarchy are clearly desperate to keep him in the job long-term, but he has hinted he might walk away for family reasons.
Discussing the situation on the Billy Slater Podcast on Monday, the 40-year-old said any talk of signing an extension was premature. “Ben Ikin came out and said that I’d like to coach on and I don’t think I’ve ever said that I wouldn’t like to help the Queensland rugby league team,” Slater said.
“I’ve just got to make sure that it works. Selfishly, I’d love to coach on, that’s the easy answer, but I’m a husband, I’m a father, I run a small stud farm, we do that ourselves as a family.
“I’ve got to make sure that everything works and I can commit that time to the Queensland rugby league team. My management has started discussions with the QRL and hopefully they progress further and then I’ll sit down with my family and work out how it all works. There’s a lot more to it than me selfishly wanting to be coach of the Queensland rugby league team.”
Brad Fittler set to be offered contract extension?
The latest development around Slater comes amid reports his counterpart Brad Fittler will be offered a one-year extension as NSW coach. Fittler has won three series out of six since taking the job in 2018, but has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of back-to-back series losses.
Last week, Danny Weidler of Channel 9 reported that the NSWRL board haven't had any discussions around Fittler's future, but "a (one) year contract is the quiet tip." Weidler tweeted: "Blues say board has had no discussions re Brad Fittler's future. He will present to them (on) August 25. After that it will be some time before a decision is made. Having said that, a (one) year contract is the quiet tip."
However Fittler also cast doubts about whether he wants to remain in the role when speaking immediately after Game III last month. The 51-year-old said: "It is not about if I want to do it or not, it's about what is best for the team. The NSW board needs to sit down and work out who is the best person for the job.
"If they think it's me they need to approach me and if they think it's somebody else they need to approach them and do that. But when that happens, I need to think about if I'm the best person for the job.
"The last couple of series have been pretty gruelling and I think me being there adds pressure to the team as well. I also need to take that into consideration.
"There are some decent decisions that need to be made. At the end of the day it is all about who is the best person for the job and they then have to go and find that person."
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