Meninga to take over as Kangaroos coach

Mal Meninga’s record-breaking reign as Queensland State of Origin coach is expected to officially end on Thursday, when he takes over as Kangaroos mentor.

Meninga has made no secret of his interest in coaching Australia after the long-serving Tim Sheens left his post earlier this year to take up a position with Super League outfit Salford.

QRL chairman Peter Betros appears resigned to being without Meninga’s services again, after he helped bring the Origin crown back to Queensland this year courtesy of a record 52-6 thumping of NSW in the series decider at Suncorp Stadium.

“I believe the issue will be resolved tomorrow,” Betros told AAP on Wednesday.

“If I was a betting man I think he would enjoy the challenge of the Kangaroos.

“He has always been up for a challenge.”

Meninga had agreed to coach the Maroons, who he has led to victory in nine of the past 10 Origin series, for the next three seasons.

But Betros said the QRL would not stand in Meninga’s way “after 10 years of loyal service”.

“We would love for him to stay but if he leaves we understand – we are very grateful for what he has done for us,” Betros said.

The ARL had previously made it clear that a current Origin coach could not be in charge of the national team.

Meninga’s Maroons assistant Kevin Walters is the favourite to take over the Queensland head coaching role.

Michael Hagan, who was released from his role as coaching director with Newcastle last week, is another possibility as Meninga’s successor.

“The board has had discussions on who we could approach if Mal isn’t available, but we haven’t agreed on a direction yet,” said Betros, who wouldn’t comment when asked if there was a standout candidate.

Hagan coached Queensland before Meninga in 2004 and 2005, winning two of six matches and losing both series.

Meninga has won 20 of the 30 games he has coached at Origin level since 2006.

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