Record-breaking Queensland State of Origin coach Mal Meninga has been confirmed as Australian coach in Sydney, ending Meninga’s 10-year tenure as Maroons coach.
The 55-year-old former Australian captain succeeds Tim Sheens as Kangaroos coach.
“It’s a huge decision. But for me it probably rounds off my career,” Meninga said at a press conference.
As the coach of the most successful Queensland team in history, Meninga know his Maroons players better than anyone, but he denied any suggestion of favouritism towards Queensland players in his future selection.
“I’ll pick the best players, whether they are Queensland or New South Wales players.”
Meninga said as Queensland coach he fostered an us-against-them mentality for State of Origin, and he would look to do the same with the Kangaroos.
“[As Australian coach] the us and them is going to be us and New Zealand, us and the England side, us and other sides,” he said.
Meninga, who has led the Maroons to victory in nine of the past 10 Origin series, had agreed to coach Queensland for another three years before he was given the opportunity to step into the Australian role.
The Australian Rugby League had previously made it clear that a current Origin coach could not be in charge of the national team.
Meninga ‘genuinely wanted’ the job: Greenberg
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg announced the decision.
“I want to thank him, not simply for accepting the position but for genuinely wanting it,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg said the goal was to raise the Kangaroos ranking to the top of the rankings by the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
“In Mal Meninga we have the person we believe can make that happen.”
QRL Managing Director Robert Moore said the coveted Kangaroos role presented an exciting opportunity for Meninga.