Meninga keen for Stuart to coach Blues
Record-breaking Queensland coach Mal Meninga would like nothing more than to continue to lock horns with his former Canberra premiership-winning teammate Ricky Stuart at State of Origin level.
Stuart is waiting to hear from the board of his new NRL club Parramatta whether he can juggle the demanding NSW job while also digging the struggling Eels out of a big hole.
The banter between former club and Test teammates Meninga and Stuart has been one of the highlights of the Origin build-up for the past two years.
Their verbal exchanges have added even more intensity to the brutal clashes, with Queensland scraping home 21-20 in the series decider on the boot of halfback Copper Cronk.
Meninga said on Thursday he wasn’t sure who would be in charge of the Blues in 2013 but hoped it would be Stuart.
“Ricky brings the best out of most people, certainly with me,” said Meninga before running a coaching clinic for six and seven-year-olds from the Eagleby Junior Rugby League Club.
“(but).. he’s got an NRL coaching job now so it’s going to be a tough decision to let him go.
“It’s a fairly demanding job and the expectations are fairly high from both states with Origin going through another boom.”
Meninga, whose decision to focus totally on Origin has played a role in the Maroons’ record seven straight series, conceded Stuart had the personality and commitment to mix up the two jobs.
Stuart, who’s hoping Parramatta agree to let him finish the job he started with NSW in 2011, has warned if they don’t select the right coach for the job, Queensland could “win 10 series in a row”.
“To throw a young coach in would be a difficult scenario,” Stuart warned this week.
“I don’t mind telling you who I said. I said if you want to stick with a full-time coach who has a bit of work to do then it’s Phil Gould.
“You’ve got to find the best person to coach the team.”
When asked about the prospect of possibly going up against NSW’s most successful Origin coach Phil Gould next year, Meninga said: “that would be interesting”.
“He’s been highly successful in that arena as well and he’s got the skills to handle it as his record shows.
“If they go that way, I think it would be a pretty good choice from NSW’s point of view.”
Meninga, who recently submitted his review of this year’s Origin series to the Queensland Rugby League, said the Maroons would not drop their guard.
“We’re going along very nicely at the moment. We won’t get complacent, we’ve to keep on moving forward and making sure we’ve got the right programs for all our players to come through and to keep our dominance going.
“We want to keep improving and come up with better processes – not just rely on what we’ve done in the past.”© AAP 2013