I know, I know…..I apologize!
We all know it should be me, but because far to busy and important to take up the role, I thought I should force my opinions onto the like of you, ya know, kind of like what I’ve been doing for the last 11 years.
I’ve said for a long time that Mal Meninga would be the best person to coach Australia and his performance with the Queensland side has just reinforced my beliefs.
The problem is Big Mal can’t coach Queensland and Australia. He can only do one or the other.
At the moment Meninga is committed to coaching Queensland, and that’s understandable. He is on the verge of winning four straight Origin series as a coach, and that’s never been done before.
Another candidate who’s name has been thrown up is Des Hasler. Hasler has worked miracles at the Manly Sea Eagles, but I get the feeling he is one of those coaches that has to immerse himself so deeply into his work that he just wouldn’t have the extra time to commit to the Australian job.
Ideally you want a coach that has a great deal of experience, who is at the top of his game, but who does not have a current NRL coaching job.
That narrows the list right down to two people in my opinion.
Mal Meninga, who I’ve mentions, and Phil Gould.
Gould has proven to be a real master at bringing together rep teams and getting them to perform. His record at Origin level is second to none and he really influences the players he coaches.
The thing is, while Gus seems to be interested in the international game, I don’t think he has any real drive to coach Australia. If he did, he’d have been coaching Australia a long time ago, especially with the way he defended the ARL during The Super League War.
So with Meninga, Gould and Hasler out of the picture, who else is left?
Craig Bellemy has what it takes, but he didn’t really handle the Origin series all that well last season. He even said he would consider standing down from the position as New South Wales coach because of the time it made him take away from the Melbourne Storm.
John Cartwright of the Gold Coast Titans has had his name thrown into the ring too, however the Titans are just about to start their third season and while they have publicly supported him, I doubt they really want him taking time away from the club. Its probably best for him to learn to walk before he runs anyway.
Graham Murrays name has been tossed up in the media, a slow news day I’d suggest. He is no where near up to the job as his stint as NSW State Of Origin coach showed.
Wayne Bennett won’t take the job again, besides, he is getting all the credit for the good things New Zealand does at Test level and none of the blame for the poor games they play, why would he want to leave that.
So all of a sudden the candidates are very thin on the ground
I think what the ARL needs to do is take a longer term approach with how it wants the Australian coach to be developed. The likes of Laurie Daley and Andrew Johns would have to be looked at as possible future representative coaches, but they need opportunities to show what they can do, and with the New South Wales State Of Origin coaching position up in the air, now is the time they should be taking a punt of Daley with Johns coming in further down the line.
There is no doubt Meninga is ideal for the Australian coaching job, and I have to say that as of right now, I’d give him the job on the proviso that he relinquishes the Queensland coaching job after this season.
If he doesn’t want to do that, then I’d offer the job to Hasler, then Bellemy.
The ARL was really forced to sack Ricky Stuart by a push from the media. There is no doubt they wanted to keep him on.
Now we know why.