Sam Thaiday says he’s not surprised new Kangaroos boss Mal Meninga won’t have any assistant coaches for his first match in charge of the national side.
Meninga has opted to go it alone when Australia takes on New Zealand in next month’s Test clash in Newcastle, and will instead lean heavily on the experience and know-how of veteran players like Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston to ensure the team is guided the right way.
Thaiday, who played in all bar one of Queensland’s Origin series wins under Meninga, says he doesn’t expect the coach to alter what has proved to be a consistent winning formula.
“I think that’s kind of what he was doing towards the end of his Origin stint; he relied on a lot of the senior players to come up with the gameplans and to see and help him run the week,” Thaiday said on Wednesday.
“It’s a very smart idea.
“The majority of coaches are doing those things these days, asking senior players for advice because they’re the ones out on the field, playing the game.”
Meninga will have his former Queensland assistant Michael Hagan on hand as team manager, as well as former Maroons halfback Adrian Lam as a video analyst, and may opt to beef up his coaching panel for the Four Nations tournament in England later this year.
Thaiday said Meninga will bring the same aura and gravitas to the Kangaroos set-up as he did when he first took the helm of Queensland.
“He came with a lot of respect from the players because we knew that he’d played that hard brand of Origin football and was the face of Queensland for us as players,” he said.
“Now you look back at some of those fantastic highlights of his career playing for Australia, and I’m sure both sides of the border are going to come into that Australian team with a lot of respect for Mal Meninga.”
As for whether Thaiday has done enough across the NRL’s first two months with the top-of-the-table Brisbane Broncos to keep his green and gold jersey, he said: “I’ve got a couple more games to go to prove my worth to be selected, but I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong not to be picked.”