We want Billy but not at any cost
THE Queensland Rugby League has tabled a three-year offer to Billy Slater as Maroons hierarchy confirmed the Storm fullback legend is their frontline coaching option to succeed Paul Green next season.
But Queensland’s quest to secure the Maroons icon has hit a stumbling block, with chairman Bruce Hatcher revealing the QRL must meet his asking price to seal the deal and launch Slater’s career as an Origin coach.
There is also lingering uncertainty over Queensland’s plan for Slater to be mentored by Mal Meninga as the ARL Commission decides whether to formally approve the Australia coach holding a virtual consultancy role with the Maroons.
Slater is the preferred candidate to replace Green and the QRL has since ramped-up their pursuit, tabling a formal offer for the 38-year-old to call the shots at Camp Maroon until the end of 2024.
QRL bosses were hoping to have his signature on a contract last Friday, but Hatcher concedes the Maroons’ plan for a Slater-Meninga coaching alliance has hit some unexpected hurdles.
“The ball is in Billy’s court. He has to come back to us and accept the position,” Hatcher said. “In Billy’s case, the QRL and his manager need to work out a deal. We’re looking at a three-year contract, it would be two years with a one-year option. Billy and his manager are the ones considering all issues, so we just have to wait.
“We are pretty definite about what we are prepared to offer, it just depends whether it’s acceptable or not and in any way, shape or form negotiable. That’s about the only thing standing in the road with Billy, we can’t drag this on indefinitely and make it a Dutch auction. I was hoping for an answer last week. I didn’t think it would be this complicated, but I understand managers do this for a living and that there is a marketplace out there.”
Slater’s manager George Mimis is one of the code’s longest-serving agents and is acutely aware of coaching salaries, both at NRL and State of Origin levels. It is understood NSW coach Brad Fittler’s salary is worth more than $350,000 annually, while his Origin rival this season Green, also managed by Mimis, earned less than $200,000 to take charge of the Maroons.
Slater is also mindful of his media and business commitments and wants to do justice to the Maroons job given his respect for the Queensland Origin culture. Should the QRL fail to strike palatable financial terms, it would send their coaching blueprint into chaos, but Hatcher remains confident the Maroons will get their man in Slater.
“I have spoken to Billy about the job before we made the offer and he was highly excited,” he said. “It’s a matter of the details now.
“Billy has indicated he wants to do it, so the QRL would love to have him on board taking us into the future.”