Mal Meninga
Mal Meninga CHRIS ISON CI--

Meninga plays down CQ prospect

RECORD-breaking Queensland State of Origin coach Mal Meninga visited Rockhampton last week, but the big man has no plans to stay here long-term.

Weeks out from NRL CEO David Gallop's visit to the Central Queensland region in the push for an NRL team in the region, Meninga ruled himself out of a full time head coaching gig at the club if its bid to enter the competition is successful.

Meninga said he was enjoying the part-time role as Origin coach and had no plans on coaching full-time in the NRL.

While supportive of the idea of expansion, Meninga thought the NRL needed to be wary of diminishing the playing stocks and finances of other clubs in the NRL.

“With the expansion, it is really going to depend on this new television rights deal and whether we can manage to financially support extra clubs in the NRL,” he said.

“A lot of the clubs are struggling to fill their top 25 now with quality players, so I don't know what it would be like with more sides in the competition. It's going to be interesting to see how it all goes.”

Meninga agreed Central Queensland is “rugby league's heartland” and, from his travels through the region in the past, believes there would be the support for an NRL club in the region.

“They love their footy up here, so if (the NRL Bid team) did get a team, people would go mad for it,” he said.

The State of Origin and Test great was in town as the Safety Ambassador creating awareness for safety in the workplace as part of Safe Work Australia Week.

Meninga is looking forward to next year's State of Origin series and has no plans on relinquishing Queensland's stranglehold on the Origin shield.

He said preparation was already underway with his team planning to recognise this year's achievements at an upcoming event.

“It's quite an awesome result for the team (winning five series in a row), so we're organising our awards ceremony in December which is another chance to recognise the achievements of our players, and is also a good gettogether for the players.”

In preparation for next year's series Meninga will team up with another legend of the game, 2010 premiership-winning coach Wayne Bennett, early in the New Year to put the next generation of stars through their paces as part of the Emerging Origin squad.

“We select players that we think could make the step up to Origin in the near future, monitor them and get the players together every now and then,” he said.

“It's about giving the new blokes in the system a bit of an insight.”



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