“He would have had a magnificent look at how Craig Bellamy coached and had the opportunity to work under Mal Meninga who was one of the great leaders in rugby league history, which he brought into his tenure as Maroons coach. I see elements of both Mal and Craig in Billy’s coaching.”
(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
There is a history surrounding the Maroons that needs to be honoured by the current playing group and Ikin said Slater was at the forefront of ensuring that legacy was front and centre of the players’ minds.
“Billy loves the fact that there was a generation of players that came before him and that these players need to respect,” Ikin said.
The Maroons have worn a quote from legendary Queensland team manager Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner on their collars during Slater’s tenure.
It says: “Queensland expects you to do your duty.”
Overall Origin and Queensland player of the series Reuben Cotter won both the Wally Lewis Medal and the Ron McAuliffe Medal this year.
After picking up the latter award he told AAP that Slater had inculcated the true meaning of Turner’s words into the players’ souls.
“Those words just motivate you and get you ready before a game,” Cotter said.
“It means that you do everything and more to protect the team, the jersey and the legacy.”
Slater played 31 Origin games for Queensland and understands what the team means to the public. He is a major driver of the fan day in regional centres that have made the Maroons more than just a football team.
“That is the last layer,” Ikin said.
“Billy takes what this most elite of teams in Queensland is, and what it stands for, and connects that to the broader fan base across the state.”