Elite Prospects

Queensland Maroons confident Billy Slater will remain as State of Origin coach


He said the goal was to re-sign the pair next year, adding, “I’m more confident than I’m not”.

“I see elements of both Mal and Craig in Billy’s coaching. Beyond that, he loves the fact that there was a generation of players who came before him that these players have to respect.

“The last layer is, he takes what this most elite of teams in Queensland is and what it stands for and connects that to the broad fan base across the state.”

Ikin declared Tuesday’s announced partnership with Westpac as “exceptional”, with the brand to be highlighted on the Maroons’ jerseys.

It will also mean an injection of grassroots support in Queensland to help provide a launchpad for further growth.

In addition, for every try scored by Queensland sides next year, the bank will donate $5000 to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

Ben Ikin described Queensland Rugby League’s partnership with Westpac as “exceptional”.

Ben Ikin described Queensland Rugby League’s partnership with Westpac as “exceptional”.Credit: Getty

But another question that remains unanswered is how next year’s State of Origin series will take shape, with several clubs reportedly pushing for a change to the mid-year scheduling.

The likes of Broncos coach Kevin Walters have supported proposals to condense the season to allow for a separate Origin window, while shortened camps for each game have also been touted.


However, Ikin was adamant the current system needed to remain.

He said that while he appreciated the positions of clubs and coaches – including on player burnout and the growing trend of star players being rested throughout the season – any tweaks to the format would come with further drawbacks.

“At the end of the day, the broadcasters need to agree to however it’s going to be played, and the way it’s drawn out now over seven, eight, nine weeks allows a whole lot of storytelling in between games,” Ikin said.

“The other thing we need to consider is this is the toughest collision sport that you can play on the planet, in my view.

“To jam three games back to back to back, you run the risk of diminishing the quality of the product.”

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