Mal Meninga says he won’t be leaving Queensland “in the lurch” if he takes over as Kangaroos coach.
Meninga said Queensland had “never been stronger” as he emerged as the favourite for what looms as a full-time national job.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant has hinted that Meninga is most likely to take over from Tim Sheens as Kangaroos coach.
He told News Corp he personally preferred a full-time national mentor, all but ruling out other leading candidates – and NRL coaches – Wayne Bennett and Craig Bellamy.
Meninga said if he were to make the painful decision of handing in the Maroons reins, they would be left in good hands.
Queensland have won nine of the last 10 State of Origin series under Meninga.
“I would not exactly be leaving Queensland in the lurch,” Meninga told the Former Origin Greats website.
“Rugby league in Queensland has never been stronger.
“We now have terrific systems in place with our development and Origin program, we have a stack of young talented players coming through the ranks and the Emerging Origin program.
“We also have the coaching staff and resources to ensure the ground we have made over the past decade can be built upon and taken forward.
“But again, this is all hypothetical.”
Under ARL rules Meninga would technically be able to juggle both Queensland and national jobs.
But Meninga reiterated that he would consider walking away from Queensland only if offered a fulltime Kangaroos gig reportedly paying $300,000 a year.
“It is an important job, a highly esteemed job and one that I think every coach in the game should aspire to,” Meninga said.
“But we all need to sit and wait to see exactly what the job will be before we start anointing a successor.”
Meanwhile, Maroons great Darren Lockyer has ruled himself out of contention for the Queensland Origin job if Meninga walks away.
Meninga had nominated Lockyer and fellow Broncos great Kevin Walters as potential successors.