No complacency as Slater tries to emulate Meninga

Joel Gould |

Billy Slater is not interested in his personal Origin legacy as coach but just focused on his team.
Billy Slater is not interested in his personal Origin legacy as coach but just focused on his team.

Billy Slater says complacency won’t be an issue as he aims to emulate his former State of Origin mentor Mal Meninga and win his first three series as Queensland coach.

Meninga, who coached Slater, famously won his first eight series in charge from 2006-2013.

Only four coaches in Origin history have won three series in a row.

Remarkably, all did so at their first attempt at coaching in the Origin cauldron.

Arthur Beetson won the 1982-1984 series as Maroons coach after also being at the helm in 1981, in the one-off Origin win by Queensland. 

Phil Gould is the only NSW coach to achieve the feat, from 1992-1994, also in his first three series as Blues coach.

Slater will take control of a settled squad on Wednesday night at Homebush with only one debutant – Parramatta lock J’maine Hopgood – in the 17.

He’s been in charge of two 2-1 series wins but winning a third, and entering the Origin coaching stratosphere, is not weighing on the 40-year-old’s mind.

“I don’t think about that to be honest. I don’t think about what sort of coach I am, all of that stuff is an outside perception,” Slater said.

“I just try and do the best job I can for this footy team and I’m here to serve my state. My duty is to help these guys be at their best, individually and collectively as a team.

“That’s where my focus is. My progression, that doesn’t worry me, I am here for the right reasons and that’s all I care about.”

The successful Maroons teams that Slater played in through 31 Origin games were hungry to keep setting the bar higher. 

They were not satisfied with what they did yesterday. The Maroons coach, as he was as a player, is not resting on his laurels.

“Once you start getting comfortable, complacency creeps in. I certainly don’t feel comfortable or complacent,” Slater said.

“I don’t feel that within the team. I don’t know why you would when playing for this Queensland team. 

“You only have to remember what this team means to the Queensland people and what it meant to us growing up.

“That keeps the complacency away for me. It hasn’t been spoken about and I haven’t seen any signs of it.”

Slater has tasted ultimate success at all levels for Melbourne, Queensland or Australia. 

The big stage is where he’s brought out his best. That said, the stomach will still churn as kick-off approaches.

“I’m excited and nervous like anyone else. It’s State of Origin,” Slater said.

“It’s a big game. Whenever I have done something I care about, nerves are natural, but what gives you confidence is your preparation. 

“Knowing you have the ability to play your best gives you confidence.”

AAP