There will be no Queensland bias but Johnathan Thurston still expects Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos approach to have a distinct Maroon tinge.
After a record 10-year stint with the Queensland reins, Meninga stressed he would not play favourites in his quest to restore the once mighty Kangaroos to their former glory as national coach.
While Meninga has vowed to put away his Maroon-coloured glasses at the Roos’ helm, Test playmaker Thurston reckons the same formula that had sparked his Queensland team’s dominance would remain.
“One thing about Mal is that he gets the best out of his players in every possible way,” Maroons and Australian No.7 Thurston said on his North Queensland club’s website.
“He’s a great people manager, a man manager.
“And that’s who you need for a representative team – bringing everyone together and getting them on the same page, working towards that one common goal.”
Meninga takes up the Kangaroos job facing yet another major salvage job after dramatically reversing Queensland’s fortunes.
New Zealand snapped Australia’s 40-year run as world No.1 in 2015 after the Roos suffered three straight losses at the hands of their trans-Tasman rivals for the first time since 1953.
But Thurston said Meninga would ensure they had pride in the Kangaroos’ jersey under his watch.
“It’s a great appointment. I think his representative coaching record speaks for itself,” he said.
“I think he has been on four Kangaroos tours so he understands what it is about playing in the Australian jersey.”
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said Meninga had a “dedicated role but certainly not a full-time” one despite not being allowed to coach any club or state side during his four-year tenure as national coach.
But Thurston looked forward to what Meninga could do with the national reins, with the Jillaroos, Prime Minister’s XIII and Junior Kangaroos also coming under his developmental jurisdiction.
“Knowing him extremely well, he likes to make sure the development pathways are there as well,” Thurston said.
“He likes to oversee everything from the ground up.
“That’s what he did at the Maroons.
“I am thinking that is exactly what he will do for the Kangaroos.”