There are a number of contenders for the tough task, from Brad Fittler to Andrew Johns.
But should club coaches even both applying for the position?
Not since Craig Bellamy’s unsuccessful stint from 2008-2010, have the Blues employed a head coach that was also the head coach of an NRL club. Queensland hasn’t given the position to an NRL coach since Michael Hagan back in 2005 when he was also the Newcastle Knights head coach.
During Bellamy and Hagan’s runs as state coaches, neither of them were able to win a single series. In fact, the last time that an NRL coach won a series for NSW was Ricky Stuart in 2005. At the time Stuart was with the Sydney Roosters but did not re-sign with the Blues for the 2006 season as he was offered the Australia Kangaroos position.
For Queensland, it was Wayne Bennett, at the time with the Brisbane Broncos, who was able to win the series in 2001. Between then and Mal Meninga’s first series in 2006, Queensland failed to win the three game series (despite retaining the shield in 2002 due to a drawn series).
Queensland has only had to appoint a new coach once since Meninga was hired in 2006, largely due to his success with the side. They decided against returning to the formula of selecting a club coach when they hired Kevin Walters in 2016.
New South Wales also switched to this method when then they hired Ricky Stuart the coach the 2011 and 2012 series. Despite being unable to win a series, his successor Laurie Daley gave the Blues their breakthrough series win in 2014 – the only win they have registered since 2005.
NSW has managed to come close to winning the series many times in recent years, perhaps only thwarted by future immortals like Jonathan Thurston and Cameron Smith.
Despite this shift towards having fully committed coaches at state level, NSW Rugby League chairman George Peponis has stated a club coach could be appointed. He claims that NSW needs the best coach they can get, regardless of their employment.
Currently, the key contenders include the likes of Brad Fittler, Craig Fitzgibbon, Geoff Toovey and Craig Bellamy. Though whoever is eventually hired is in for a challenge, with the Queensland team finishing the 2017 series on a high.