Mal Meninga has left the door ajar to coach the Kangaroos in the near future despite signing a three-year contract extension with the Queensland Rugby League.
The new deal will keep Meninga tied to the Maroons until the end of 2018, but the coach was careful with his words on Tuesday and warned it wouldn’t necessarily mean he would see out the three additional years.
“What it means is I’ve got the ability to coach for another three years,” he told reporters in Brisbane after the naming of Queensland’s team for the State of Origin opener next week.
“But again, I think I’m honest enough and the players are honest enough with me whether I go those three years or not.
“It depends on success. It’s a results-driven game, particularly Origin.
“For me, I love what I do. I love being involved with the Queensland program, I’m very privileged and honoured the QRL wants to continue with my services.
“I’ll be gauging things year-by-year but at this stage I have another three years, which I’m happy about.”
Meninga, the mastermind of Queensland’s eight-year Origin dynasty, has been thrown up as an ideal candidate to succeed Tim Sheens, who is under pressure to keep his job as Kangaroos coach following the Anzac Test loss to New Zealand.
A magazine report this week claimed he has already been approached by the Australian Rugby League, but Meninga said that story was “not true”.
Asked directly if he would consider taking over the Kangaroos if asked at the end of the year, an evasive Meninga said: “Again, it’s all speculation.”
“I’m not quite sure what the ARL’s going to do but I’ve committed myself to Queensland for the next three years, so that’s what I’ll do.”
In the meantime, Meninga’s Maroons will be hoping their coach can resist the lure of the green and gold, if and when it comes.
Captain Cameron Smith said: “At the end of the day he was the man that turned around our fortunes on the field.”
“Given his experience at Origin level and the passion that he instilled in the group that we have at the moment and the group that we did have in 2006 … I believe it’s the reason we went on the run we went on.
“I think in these games, technical coaching goes out the window.
“The team that always goes out with the best attitude, the strongest attitude and the most belief is the team that usually wins.
“That’s what Mal’s instilled in this group and is his greatest quality as coach.”