BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15: Queensland Maroons Coach Mal Meninga (L) and former Maroons player Mark Coyne watch on during a Queensland Maroons Origin Captain's run at Suncorp Stadium on June 15, 2010 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Mal Meninga has been cleared to pick up a role with the Queensland Rugby League, despite his ongoing job as coach of the Australian national team.

Meninga was a long-term coach during Queensland's most successful decade-long run of Origin dominance over the New South Wales Blues.

Since leaving that post in charge of the men from north of the Tweed, Meninga has become coach of the Australian team, although hasn't coached a single game since the end of 2019 when Australia took on New Zealand in a Test in Wollongong.

COVID has been the main roadblock in front of international rugby league during that period, but there are plans for it to return heavily in 2022 with a World Cup on the horizon at the end of the season, to be played in England.

Meninga's job with the ARL meant him joining Queensland Origin camp would lead to a clear conflict of interests, something the ARL weren't having as they knocked back the QRL's original approach.

According to The Australian though, Meninga has now been cleared to work on a senior advisory board, provided he doesn't have direct contact with new Queensland coach Billy Slater.

It had been previously reported the QRL wanted to build a strong support team around Slater, who has never coached at the elite level before. The former Queensland Origin fullback was set to have Meninga, Wayne Bennett, Gene Miles and Neil Henry working alongside him.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11: Billy Slater of Queensland waves to the crowd as he is chaired from the field by Cameron Munster and Will Chambers of Queensland after his final game for Queensland during game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'Landys told the publication that Meninga would be allowed to play a role.

“I am happy for Mal to play a role with the Queensland Rugby League,” V’landys said.

“However, I have made it clear that he can’t be doing any work with Billy Slater while Mal is the Australian coach.

“There is a perception and clearly a conflict-of-interest issue (if Mal was to assist Slater).

“By all means, we would like Mal to help the Queensland Rugby League in other endeavours.

“He is an Immortal of the game and we believe he can help Queensland from a participation perspective.

“But we don’t want him involved in the State of Origin program. Billy Slater has enough staff to help him, so we have to be fair and balanced.

“It not only has to be right, it has to look right. We don’t want NSW saying there is a bias to Queensland in the Australian team.

“This is not a shot at Mal Meninga. His integrity is beyond reproach, but it’s the perception if the Australian coach was working with the Queensland coach."

1 COMMENT

  1. In my view, scrap the Australian coach – as a paid position – and alternate between the NSQ and Qld coach to fill the national position. It’s not as if they have a lot to do – only three SOO matches per year to manage. Let the NRL save some money and throw it into bush football.

    As for any perception of bias, any person who takes the national coaching job, who also has previously been a State coach, will have the same issue. Small minded people will scream “bias”. I don’t buy it. Even if a State coach were to be coaching the national side, pressure of public opinion would force him to pick the best players who were fit.

    As it is, State coaches make biased picks based on their personal relations with players, rather than taking the obvious better options available.

    As an example, take Brad Fitter selecting Jack Wighton in the starting side and Api Korisau off the bench. Korisau is just a rake, not a utility – he can only get a run if Damien Cook has to come off. Blind Freddy could have seen that the best choice once Cleary was out was Reynolds and Walker – with their experience of playing together and playing with Cook and Mitchell. But no, Brad wanted to do the best thing by his mates. And we all know how badly that turned out!

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