Queensland Rugby League boss Ben Ikin says negotiations to extend the contract of Maroons coach Billy Slater are at the “pointy end” as he urged the NRL not to change the format of State of Origin.
Slater and Maroons women’s coach Tahnee Norris are both off-contract and Ikin said the QRL’s goal remains to re-sign both.
Slater has guided the Maroons to consecutive Origin successes, while Norris was victorious this season after a drawn series the Queenslanders won on for and against.
“I am more confident than I am not,” Ikin said when asked about keeping Slater on board.
“There are a whole lot of moving parts at the moment around both teams and both series.
“We are still trying to understand what the series schedule will look like next year and how long the camps will be. We are working through budgets.
“The pleasing thing for us is that Tahnee and Billy have been really patient. We have been in constant communication with them.”
There is a desire from NRL clubs to reduce the Origin series from its current six-week format to lessen the impact on the season.
Clubs also want 10-day Origin camps reduced to week-long get-togethers.
Ikin, who said the QRL was in constant dialogue with clubs about their concerns, warned against such a move.
“We would like the Origin schedule to remain the way it is,” he said.
“Across the history of Origin they have tried to skin this thing, pull it apart and put it back together a million different ways.
“This is the model that just seems to land well for everybody. The broadcasters need to agree to how it is going to be played and the way it is drawn out now allows a whole lot of storytelling between games.
“If you compress up over three weeks … it is here and it is gone.”
Ikin said the allure of the game’s showpiece could be diminished by a compressed series.
“This is the toughest collision sport you can play on the planet,” he said.
“To jam three games back-to-back-to-back you run the risk of diminishing the quality of the product.”
Ikin said the QRL would support the women’s Origin series moving from two games to three.
The QRL on Tuesday announced a new three-year partnership with Westpac.
From 2024, the bank will become the front of jersey sponsor for the Maroons’ men’s team and shoulder sponsor for Queensland’s women.