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Renouf: Rookie coach a huge gamble for Maroons

With the surprising news this week that the Maroons had parted ways with Paul Green after just one year, Billy Slater now appears likely to take over and I have to say that's an unusual move.

If that is the way Queensland choose to go I of course wish Billy every possible success and will be cheering for the mighty Maroons to reclaim the shield in 2022.

But it is a massive gamble, and I'm really surprised that they would throw him in this early.

It's an unknown. He hasn't coached.

Talking to guys that know him, they say him, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk all have a real footy head.

You have to wait and see how that translates as a head coach, because Origin is very much about man management. That's where Wayne Bennett comes to the fore because he's such a good man-manager. He has those one-on-ones with all his players, he's done that with his whole coaching career but it's perfect in that three game period of Origin.

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It's probably a good thing that Queensland were able to win Game III this year so they at least can take a little bit of momentum into next year. While I'm still surprised Greeny is moving on already they have something to build on with that last win.

If Queensland see Billy as the future long-term coach, and there's no doubt he does have a terrific understanding of the game as well as having an absolutely stellar record as a player, I'd have liked to see him serve some sort of apprenticeship first.

Ideally someone like Wayne could have come back for one more season to bring Billy into the system and show him the ropes a bit and learn more about that man-management side of things.

Even if Billy is great tactically that could be a big step up in that side of things, particularly being so fresh out of playing and having guys in the squad that he played alongside.

There's no doubt NSW has a deeper pool of talent to select from at the moment and that won't change in the short term, which could make things hard for a new coach.

But we saw what Wayne was able to do last year with the supposed "worst Queensland team ever" which makes me think he could have had a big role to play helping someone like Slater transition into the role.

Assuming Neil Henry stays on as assistant coach that will provide a bit of continuity; I would have thought even he might have been an option as a stop-gap head coach but maybe he doesn't want the extra pressure and media scrutiny that comes with the top job.

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I don't want to give too much credit to NSW but you look at the way they brought Brad Fittler through. He was looking after their pathways for a long time and coaching at the junior Origin level before taking over the senior squad.

Again, he's had an incredible roster of players to choose from which has helped but he's also served out that apprenticeship before taking over the Origin team as well. That could be something for Queensland to keep in mind.

Whether or not this turns out to be the right call, we'll have to wait and see but at the end of the day I wish Billy all the best and all the success.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.

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