Mal Meninga could still coach both the Queensland Origin side and the Kangaroos in 2016.
Just three days after confirming the national role would be given to “a dedicated coach with no ties to a club or state”, the NRL has reportedly revealed it may not appoint a full-time coach until after the Origin series.
The Kangaroos have just one Test match between now and 2016’s end-of-year Four Nations, with such a decision opening the door for Brad Fittler, Geoff Toovey of Ivan Cleary to coach the side in the annual one-off mid-year Test against New Zealand.
It also means Meninga, who is favourite for the Australian job, could finish with a 10th Origin series victory for Queensland, before taking on the Kangaroos coaching role.
“There may be an interim coach for that Test,” an NRL spokesman told News Corp Australia.
While Queensland would be elated with the opportunity to better organise a succession plan, the NSW Rugby League are infuriated at the suggestion, sparking fears of selection bias towards Maroons players.
“Appointing someone on an interim basis now seems to completely fly in the face of all of the reasons why they would want to appoint a full-time coach,” NSWRL CEO Dave Trodden said.
“In fairness to everybody, the coach should be identified before the State of Origin series because presumably that is the key selection trial for positions in the Australian team (for the end-of-season tournament).”
The Australian job has remained independent of Origin mentors since NSW coach Terry Fearnley dropped four Queensland players for the final Test against New Zealand in 1985.