Are you ready, Blues – Qld’s coaching dream team for State of Origin

Billy Slater will get his dream team back together for Queensland’s State of Origin camp, ushering in Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston as assistant coaches.

Mar 29, 2022, updated Mar 29, 2022
Cameron Smith of the Storm (centre) poses for a photo with Billy Slater (right) and Johnathan Thurston.  (AAP Image/Daniel Pockett)

Cameron Smith of the Storm (centre) poses for a photo with Billy Slater (right) and Johnathan Thurston. (AAP Image/Daniel Pockett)

Months after replacing Paul Green, Slater confirmed on Tuesday the two most experienced players in Origin history would join Josh Hannay on his maiden coaching team.

It makes for arguably the biggest all-star coaching roster in any Australian rugby league set up, with the group having won 11 grand finals and 18 of 27 Origin matches when on the park together.

Thurston will predominantly work as the team’s attacking coach, focusing on the halves and their link with the outside men.

The North Queensland legend has been in Maroons camps at times since his 2017 retirement, but this year marks the first time he has officially held a coaching role.

“JT is your ultimate Origin competitor,” Slater said.

“We saw all the brilliant stuff that Johnathan brought to the game, but for me it was the work ethic that he demanded from himself, which in turn he demanded from his teammates.

“I think he can have that sort of impact as a coach also.

“Obviously, his skills and vision of the game, understanding the balance of when to pull the trigger and when to play the percentage play, that was where he excelled in the big games.”

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Smith will, meanwhile, take on a role in the middle of the field with the side’s forwards, in his first foray into an official coaching role since his retirement.

“If you look at what he brought as a player and a leader, I think that’s also what he can bring as a member of the coaching staff,” Slater said.

“Some people have this aura about them, and Cameron Smith is one of those people.

“He didn’t have to say a lot as captain of the Queensland State of Origin team, you felt it more than anything … you felt his presence.”

Allan Langer and Nate Myles will also remain as part of Slater’s support staff, after the Maroons were flogged in the opening two games of last year’s series.

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