For Mal Meninga to become coach of the national Kangaroos side, the Australian Rugby League (ARL) needs to change its policy. The “Fearnley Rule” doesn’t allow a state coach to take on the Australian coaching job as well.
An Origin coach without an NRL club hasn’t had the national job since NSW mentor Terry Fearnley drove a wedge between players on the 1985 Kangaroos Tour of New Zealand after he dumped four Queenslanders before a Test and replaced them with Blues players.
Since then the Australian Rugby League (ARL) has had a policy of not employing current state coaches to take on the Australian role.
Debate surrounding Ricky Stuart’s 2009 replacement deepened on Tuesday as an apparent stand-off between the Australian Rugby League (ARL) and the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) developed.
The ARL makes the appointment but the QRL recently signed Meninga to an attractive three-year deal after he guided the Maroons to a third successive series win over NSW.
For Meninga to accept the ARL’s offer as things stand, he’d have to relinquish his cherished Queensland job.
ARL chief executive Geoff Carr said there had been some discussion at Tuesday’s board meeting in Brisbane about preparing a short list of coaches to be considered early in the new year.
But he said there’d been no discussion on amending any policy to spare Meninga from having to choose between Queensland and Australia.
Queensland Rugby League general manager Ross Livermore however boldly declared if it came to Meninga having to choose, he was confident he would turn down the Australian job.
Livermore said Meninga had telephoned him from country NSW on Tuesday morning to re-assure him he was committed to Queensland, aiming up for a record-breaking fourth successive Origin series win under his guidance.
Meninga painstakingly compiled an Origin blueprint around his exciting young Maroons which he put to the QRL after the triumphant 2008 series.
The QRL board endorsed it with a three-year contract.
Asked if Queensland had a quality back-up should Meninga request a release, Livermore said: “he won’t, he’ll be with Queensland”.
“Contracts are as good as the people who enforce them and if Mal chose to go another way, you wouldn’t hold the bloke to it.
“But coaching Queensland is what he wants to do, he’s still very keen to do the job.”
Livermore however said he could envisage a policy shift to allow Meninga to do both coaching jobs.
“The current policy as it stands is he can’t do both jobs, but that could change,” he said.
12th October 2008