Life after footy is not something Billy Slater wants to contemplate just yet.
But the recovering fullback might have provided a glimpse of it on Thursday at the Queensland State of Origin camp on the Gold Coast.
Slater has not ruled out one day holding the Queensland coaching reins as he mulls over his playing future after surprising onlookers at Maroons training.
For a moment, Queensland appeared to have produced their biggest wildcard since announcing Allan Langer’s 2001 comeback.
Front and centre leading the players onto the training field was Slater, supposedly sidelined for the NRL season with a shoulder injury.
But officials calmed down excited onlookers by confirming Slater had been recruited as a “coaching consultant”.
Slater ran through backline plays and gave tips to Darius Boyd who will wear the Maroons’ No.1 jersey with which ‘Billy the kid’ had become synonymous.
Slater admitted his Queensland coaching stint might be a sign of things to come.
“I do enjoy it (coaching). And I am a very passionate Queenslander,” Slater said.
“Hopefully, I can learn a bit now. Who knows what will happen in the future?”
Slater – 33 next month – admitted it might be the closest he would get to the Queensland team.
The veteran of 27 Origins for his beloved Maroons confirmed reports that there were no guarantees over his playing future despite his NRL club Melbourne providing the best medical expertise.
He underwent a second major shoulder operation barely two months ago.
Slater lasted just two games into a comeback from 2015 shoulder surgery when he pulled the pin in March on this NRL season.
“It’s really tough watching footy. I feel like I can still play,” Slater said.
“But I am very grateful for the opportunity to get back into camp.”
Asked if he believed he could play again, Slater said: “I really hope so. I can’t guarantee anything at the moment.
“I probably won’t be able to guarantee anything until next year.
“But if all goes well and the risks aren’t high, I certainly want to play football again.”
In the meantime, Slater intends to enjoy his “consolation prize” of assisting the Maroons ahead of Wednesday night’s series opener in Sydney.
“To be back in the camp and helping out the outside backs is great,” he said.
“I would love to be playing but it is not to be this year.”