Rugby league great Slater appointed Queensland Origin coach

Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) –


Australian rugby league great Billy Slater was Friday appointed the new Queensland State of Origin coach in a bid to win back the fiercely contested title they lost to New South Wales this year.

Widely seen as one of the best players ever, the 38-year-old will take the reins after Paul Green quit after just a year at the helm.

"It's a great honour to be the Queensland coach. I was drawn to the role because I care and because it's important to me," said Slater, who played in 31 Origin games -- an annual best-of-three clash between Queensland and New South Wales.

During his outstanding career, the decorated Slater collected two NRL Grand Final titles and represented Australia at the 2008, 2013 and 2017 World Cups, lifting the trophy twice, before retiring in 2018.

But he has no experience as a head coach and will reportedly bring in former teammates and fellow greats Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith to help out.

"It would be irresponsible not to lean on some great people around the Queensland State of Origin team that have been there in the past, that have been successful," he said.

"I thought it was important that I had to commit first, then we'll put the pieces of the puzzle together."

Green stepped down after overseeing a 2-1 series defeat this year, including a 50-6 thrashing in game one -- New South Wales' biggest-ever winning margin in one of Australia's premier sporting events.