The Kangaroos trainer is committed to helping the young Queensland Maroons in every possible way and his presence at camp for this year’s series as a trainer alongside assistant trainer Neil Henry has been a blessing for Bennett.
A series of calls between Bennett, Meninga, the NRL, ARLC and the QRL hierarchy received the appointment through the line and QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher said it was “a match made in heaven.”
The pair have 14 wins in the Origin series, with Bennett’s teams lifting the Origin shield five times and Meninga winning a record nine series as head coach, including an impressive eight in a row.
“Just like in life, no one has all skills, and I think Wayne and Mal’s skills are largely complementary with years of experience and success,” Hatcher told NRL.com.
“You have come a very long way. As for coaching, they have everything we could ever ask for. Young guys will make up the majority of our team, and from a mentoring perspective, you couldn’t have better leadership. ”
“The collaboration between two great men in Wayne and Mal is a heavenly game. It’s absolutely the A-Team.
“This will be an environment where people like Wayne, Mal and Neil – all with the appropriate coaching experience – will get the most out of their fees for the series.”
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Hatcher said with no scheduled testing, it would make sense for Meninga to put his knowledge and stature on a historic End of Season State of Origin series that kicks off in Adelaide on November 4th.
ARL commission chairman Peter V’landys said Meninga will step down from his kangaroo duties and waive his remuneration while serving in Queensland.
“This year is an extraordinary year,” he said.
“Under normal circumstances, you can’t be the head coach of the kangaroos and be involved in an Origin squad. However, since there are no test matches due to COVID, we have given permission to support Queensland.
“Mal is an Origin Legend and his presence on the series will add extra excitement to our fans and players.”
Meninga and Bennett have a long relationship that dates back to their time together in the Queensland Police Service.
Bennett was Meninga’s coach at Souths when the Magpies won the BRL title in 1985 and again at Canberra in 1987 before coaching him at Maroons.
Much of Queensland’s success in Origin’s 40-year history can be traced back to Bennett-Meninga’s influence. Immortal Meninga played for his state in 32 games in a stellar career.
“The hallmark of Wayne’s coaching is that he keeps it simple and chooses players who are disciplined and give one hundred percent,” said Hatcher.
“There’s a lot about our current Origin systems and processes that Wayne and Mal set up. Mal is the one who consulted his senior playgroup and they have spelled out why they love playing for Queensland and why they want success for Queensland.
“When Wayne came back last time [in 2001] That was because a strong coach and leadership was badly needed and he made it happen. ”
Henry worked closely with Meninga in the early stages of the Maroons Dynasty to develop team tactics and strategies. Former Queensland captain Darren Lockyer has hailed Henry as one of the unsung heroes of Queensland’s success during that time.
Bennett has long preferred to have wise minds around him, and throughout his coaching rise, mentors such as the late Bobby Bax and Ron Massey had valued soundboards.
“Not only is Wayne a mentor himself, he’s used mentors on his way up,” said Hatcher.
“I knew him from the time he decided to be a coach and when he had problems he always had someone to discuss them with, someone who always enjoyed learning.
“He has applied it in a way that is beneficial for both his own coaching and the teams he trains, and that will be the case again.”