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Rugby league great Billy Slater has revealed the real story behind Queensland's ultimately unsuccessful move to install him as the next Maroons coach.
Reports emerged over the weekend that the legendary former Storm and Queensland fullback was approached earlier in the year about taking over as coach, before the job was given to current Maroons mentor, Paul Green.
Maroons great Paul 'Fatty' Vautin said on radio over the weekend that Queensland Rugby League (QRL) officials had offered Slater the job, only to later inform the 319-game NRL legend that he would have to undergo an interview process.
“Billy Slater was actually offered the job earlier in the year and he said ‘yeah I’ll take it’. A month went by and nothing happened,” Vautin told ABC radio.
“Then Billy got a phone call from someone in the QRL saying ‘we’d love you to come in and have an interview’ and he said ‘an interview? What are you talking about? Didn’t you say I had the job?’.
“They said ‘oh there’s been another guy come up’ and he said ‘you know what, you can stick your interview where the sun don’t shine, don’t worry about it’ and that’s when Paul Green got the job.”
Vautin's stunning revelation took the rugby league world by surprise but QRL boss Bruce Hatcher told News Corp it simply wasn't true.
“I don’t know where he got the information from but I certainly can’t corroborate the story,” Hatcher said.
“I certainly know what I said. (Slater) was not offered the job outright by anyone who had the authority to make that decision.
“I will stand and do a stat dec for you if you want me to do that. That is how confident I feel about that statement.”
With the Maroons' Origin series plagued by injuries and scandals, and the side copping a combined 76-6 hiding after the first two games, Slater has moved to clarify what really happened and why he distanced himself from the Queensland coaching "circus".
"At the end of the day, I’m a Queenslander – I’ve always been willing to help Queensland out," Slater said on 2GB.
"I was in discussions with people from the QRL over the summer when Wayne Bennett said that he wasn't going to coach the Queensland team after last year.
"They did put it to me, there was people that asked me if I’d be interested in coaching, and to be honest I was taken aback.
"I was very honoured. I'd never really sat down and seriously considered it.
"My advice to the QRL was they needed to go away and work out who exactly they thought was best for the job, that's what all us Queenslanders want - the best person to the lead the Queenslanders going forward.
"I didn’t want to be a part of the circus and when it started to become that I called [QRL boss] Bruce Hatcher and told him I didn't want to be a part of that."
NSW remain in the box seat to complete the most lopsided campaign in history at Gold Coast's Cbus Super Stadium.
A 26-0 loss in Brisbane was the Maroons' first scoreless effort at home and followed a record 50-6 hiding in Townsville that set the tone.
Off-field dramas have compounded Green's problems during his first campaign in charge, with Ronaldo Mulitalo's eligibility dramas and Jai Arrow's COVID-19 breach creating unprecedented headaches.
Green tipped to be axed after series
Former NSW coach Phil Gould believes Green won't coach Queensland next season regardless of Wednesday's result, criticising his selections, leadership and negativity after the Brisbane loss.
The former North Queensland premiership winner didn't bite on Tuesday, smiling back at questions about his coaching future and delivering a simple message.
"There's nothing I can say; what's going to count is how we play tomorrow night," he said.
"The time for talking's probably done, we need to show some actions and that counts tomorrow night.
"That's (my future as Queensland coach) out of my hands, I'm not even worried or thinking about it.
"Just stick solid, stick by us, we'll be right."
Cherry-Evans' leadership has also taken a hammering just one year after it had been celebrated in an unlikely underdog Queensland series win.
"With that sort of stuff we understand that situation," he said.
"If you're not winning games of footy the coach and playing group, in particular the leaders, come under the most scrutiny.
"If we get a win tomorrow night it's going to help Greeny retain his job - and players like myself - but I'm really confident in where we are and what we're doing.
"Greeny's doing the best job he can and unfortunately the results haven't reflected the hard work he's put in, but it comes with the territory when you're down 2-0 in the series.
"I might be a little crazy, but I think I'm going to win every game I play and tomorrow night's no different."
A 3-0 result would be the Blues' first since 2000 and even sweeter considering all three games have been played in Queensland.
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