'Absolutely mad': Fans divided as Billy Slater named Maroons coach

Seen here, new Maroons coach Billy Slater during his Queensland State of Origin playing days.
Maroons legend Billy Slater has agreed a two-year deal as the next Queensland State of Origin coach. Pic: Getty

Billy Slater and the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) have finally confirmed that the champion former fullback has agreed to take on the role as new Maroons coach.

Slater has been handed a two-year deal as the next Maroons coach after Paul Green was sacked off the back of a disastrous series for Queensland in 2021.

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A premiership-winning former Melbourne Storm fullback, as well as Maroons and Kangaroos legend - Slater will lead his state in the next two State of Origin campaigns in what will be his first senior coaching role since retiring in 2018.

"This team means a lot to me. It always has," Slater said.

"It has been a big part of my life for the majority of my life and now I get the opportunity to help other people, not only fulfil their dream, but inspire a whole state."

Despite his inexperience, Slater was among the contenders before Green was named coach for the 2021 campaign.

Seen here, Billy Slater is chaired off in his last State of Origin game in Queensland.
Billy Slater is regarded as one of the greatest players to have worn the Maroon for Queensland in State of Origin. Pic: Getty

For weeks, the 319-game NRL legend has been forced to answer questions about whether he was going to take the Maroons role, with the 38-year-old carefully weighing up his options before committing to his beloved state team.

While Slater is revered as one of the greatest players in Queensland's history - having been an integral member of the Maroons during their greatest era of dominance - many fans have cited his lack of coaching experience as a genuine concern.

League fans react to Billy Slater appointment

Suffice to say, confirmation of Slater's appointment has left the rugby league world divided.

After a 2-1 series loss including a 50-6 thrashing in the series-opener in Townsville, the NRL premiership-winning coach and the Queensland Rugby League parted ways in September with Green refusing to rule out a return to club coaching if a position became available.

Slater was one of the key players in Queensland's dominant Origin team of the 2000s.

The ex-Melbourne Storm star played 31 times for his state and played a key part in the Mal Meninga-coached team which won nine series in 10 years.

Slater's assistants are not confirmed at this stage but fellow Origin greats Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston have been mentioned.

There have also been suggestions that veteran coach Wayne Bennett, who is leaving South Sydney at the end of the Rabbitohs' 2021 NRL finals campaign, could also be involved in some capacity.

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