Be careful what you wish for.
That’s the clear warning sounded to Paul Green, said to be the incoming Queensland State of Origin coach, by two blokes who would know: Mal Meninga and Wayne Bennett.
Fresh off steering North Queensland to a maiden NRL premiership, Green has reportedly been offered the coveted job by the Queensland Rugby League and only needs clearance from his full-time employers to make it official.
But nine-time Origin-winning coach Meninga, the man he would succeed, reckons the Maroons job is so big it will require Green’s undivided attention – leaving the Cowboys with a huge dilemma as to whether they allow him to realise his representative ambitions or shackle him down in Townsville.
“I think it’s difficult and it’s important it’s a decision that’s not made lightly,” said Meninga, who is happy to have been excluded from the decision-making process.
“I remember having Neil Henry as my assistant and the duties just with that were enormous.
“That impinged on his abilities to coach the Cowboys.”
Bennett, who was also a club coach during six of his seven years as Maroons boss, said it will come at a “huge cost” for the Cowboys if they let Green juggle two jobs.
“Nobody knows the demands of the job from a club point of view better than I do,” said Bennett.
“It can done, but it will be done at a huge cost.
“I don’t think it will hurt Queensland’s chances, there’s so many wonderful players in that team and they’ve got a pretty good system going.
“The challenge is going to be going back to your club.”
Underlining that point, Bennett said he would have stood down his Broncos assistant Kevin Walters from club duties for 12 months if he was offered the position, because he would be “distracted”.
That he wasn’t has been a sore point for many former Origin greats who are upset with Walters’ treatment, and currently players such as Maroons skipper Cameron Smith, who said on Tuesday he was “surprised” he was overlooked.
“He hasn’t done a lot wrong,” Bennett said.
“If Kevin’s not in the mix, he’s not in the mix for some reason that they’ve felt in their minds.
“(But) on all occasions he was under the impression he was being groomed to be the next coach.”
The final decision may not come until the new year.
“It’s getting to Christmas isn’t it? We’ve all got Christmas presents to attend to. Rugby league’s taken up a huge part of our lives, we need a spell,” Meninga said.