In a move Queensland State of Origin coach Kevin Walters concedes will raise eyebrows, Allan Langer has been placed in charge of identifying Maroons troublemakers to help avoid a repeat of the Emerging Origin camp drama.
Walters indicated on Wednesday he would be thinking outside the box in a bid to extend predecessor Mal Meninga’s dominant nine Origin series wins in 10 years.
He unveiled former national shot put champion Chris Gaviglio as his strength and conditioning coach as part of his new-look Maroons support staff.
Manly assistant Anthony Seibold will be Walters’ deputy with doctor Matthew Hislop and physio Robert Godbolt also on board.
But arguably Walters’ most-unexpected call was Langer’s new brief.
In a tough start to his tenure, Walters was forced to slap 12-month Origin bans on eight players for breaking curfew at the recent Emerging Maroons camp.
And Walters said he would rely on Langer’s judgment to ensure a similar controversy didn’t happen again in his Origin camp.
Walters conceded Langer’s larrikin past on and off the field had ensured the former livewire halfback was seen as a fun-loving figure in Maroons circles.
But he believed his former teammate was also the best gauge of a player worthy of donning the Queensland jersey.
“A lot of things can be said about Alf and how he’s social coordinator and all that,” Walters said of Langer, who was retained in the support staff along with fellow greats Trevor Gillmeister, Steve Walters and Gavin Allen.
“But I have played a lot of football with Alf and what he can identify quickly is who is a good person and who should be wearing that Maroon jumper.”
In light of the camp bans, Walters hoped to name larger squads for each game in his debut series in order to build depth.
Usually, 18-strong Origin squads are selected for a match.
“Bringing in as many players as we can in that environment is a great learning experience for a player,” he said.
“Players learn best around the greats rather than a coach (especially) with the current group of players we have.”
Past greats such as Langer will also fast-track their Origin education, Walters said.
“It’s good to still have those (greats) involved. I think that has been an important part of Mal’s success to have ex-Origin players on the staff,” Walters said.
“Players can identify with that.”
Walters made the tough call to cut assistants Jason Hetherington and Michael Hagan, physio Scott Thornton and long-time doctor Roy Saunders soon after taking over from Meninga.
Walters handpicked his staff including ex-champion Gaviglio who worked with the Wallabies and AFL club Gold Coast before linking with the Queensland Academy of Sport.
Ex-Melbourne assistant Seibold will juggle Manly duties with his role as Maroons deputy and defensive coach.