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Criticism of Meninga's $300,000 salary is unjust

Mal Meninga will cast a careful eye on the Junior Kangaroos vs Junior Kiwis match. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Pro
6th December, 2015
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3065 Reads

This week many prominent people criticised the $300,000 salary Mal Meninga will reportedly receive in his new role of Kangaroos coach.

Phil Gould wrote that the “whole thing is a waste of money” while Peter FitzSimons asked “When Mal turns up for work… what, exactly do you want him to do for the next eight hours?”

It’s surprising that two men who are often paid stunningly well to do what is effectively very little ‘work’ would take such a dim view of Meninga commanding $300,000 to coach the national team.

Both Gould and Fitzsimmons work in industries where they often turn up to work or perform for inflated sums of money based on who they are and what they’ve done in the past. Likewise, the reason Meninga can command $300,000 to coach the Kangaroos is more due to the hard yards he’s put in during a lifetime playing and coaching rugby league than the work he’ll do during a year coaching the Kangaroos.

The Kangaroos had to change something to address their poor recent record against the Kiwis. In this case it has meant paying Meninga a handsome (call it ‘fulltime’ if you like) salary to do what everyone realises is effectively a part-time role.

It’s likely the ARL Commission’s chairman John Grant would have copped even more criticism trying to allow anyone to coach a State of Origin team and the national team at the same time. Perceived bias when it came to team selections would have been just one of the many complications.

Most people agree Meninga was the best candidate for the job but there always needed to be some significant incentive to lure him away from the Queensland role. In the bigger scheme of things $300,000 is very little to be able to secure the legendary figure and the many positives that his involvement with the team could have.

FitzSimons’s suggestion to “Give him the gig, but write into the contract you are also rugby league’s Ambassador-at-Large and must visit 50 schools in your capacity as Kangaroos coach, 25 clubs etc” is very admirable – but if you’re going to adopt that similar philosophy you’d also insist many players in professional sports have similar commitments written in to their contracts.

Where would you stop?

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Having Meninga involved will not only be good for the Kangaroos but should be a boost for trans-Tasman clashes – and therefore international rugby league.

He remains one of the most respected Australian rugby league legends among New Zealand sports fans and the additional charisma he will bring to the job that Tim Sheens didn’t have will be just one of many areas where he’ll be worth his weight in gold.