Injury may have sidelined him indefinitely but Billy Slater has emerged as new Queensland coach Kevin Walters’ trump card ahead of the State of Origin series.
Walters admitted his first series at the Maroons helm would be hit hard by the unavailability of Slater, who is nursing a career-threatening shoulder injury.
However, Walters said Slater would still play a key role as part of his Queensland support staff, claiming few people could provide a better Origin insight.
“He’s been a mainstay of the Queensland team – of course we will miss him,” Walters told AAP.
“But I think we would be silly not to still use him (in support staff).
“Given his time off I am sure he is watching plenty of football for Queensland and taking a look at the NSW players as well.”
Walters has also made an official staff appointment, adding Broncos high performance manager Alex Corvo to his new-look team.
Walters put a broom through the Maroons support staff when he took over from legendary coach Mal Meninga.
He cut assistant Michael Hagan, trainer Jason Hetherington, team doctor Roy Sanders and physio Scott Thornton.
The new staff is assistant Anthony Siebold, strength and conditioning coach Chris Gaviglio, doctor Matthew Hislop and physio Robert Godolt.
“We want to make things different for the players other than their every day routines at their respective NRL clubs,” Walters said of his staff change.
Walters was still keeping mum about the look of his first Queensland team ahead of the June 1 Origin opener in Sydney.
“We have a fair idea of who is playing well and available – most of the Queensland side picks itself,” he said.
“We are going to be very loyal to the players who have worn the jersey in the past.
“But there are a couple of jerseys available for those prepared to do the hard work.”
The Maroons will have a new look backline with Slater, Will Chambers (foot) and fellow centre Justin Hodges (retirement) unavailable.
“It’s so important to get out of the blocks strong on June 1,” Walters said.