MAL Meninga will be able to transfer many of his successful methods in stirring a Queensland State of Origin team culture to his new role at the Titans, Maroons veterans say.
Meninga was announced last week in a role as Titans head of performance and culture while remaining Kangaroos coach.
Meninga laid out for his 2006 Queensland players what the keys would be to becoming a winning Origin team prior to their run of nine series wins in 10 years under his coaching.
At age 58, Meninga has notably taken a role in the game which is not that of a coach and stressed last week that accountability of players was paramount in his strategy at Gold Coast.
“I think it’s a great idea. They were talking about him doing a similar thing at Canberra behind the scenes,’’ said Steve Walters, a Queensland team manager since 2001 and former teammate of Meninga’s with Canberra, Queensland and Australia.
“From 2006, Mal had a connection with the players about who they represented and the responsibilities that come with that.
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“This is a little different because the Titans haven’t had that amount of history, but I’m sure Mal will be about them making their own history, taking ownership and not blaming others.
“Those concepts are not just for representative teams. A lot of it wasn’t new but Mal has a really good way of presenting it to the players.
“It helps that he has his standing in the game and also his physical size. People tend to listen more.’’
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Brent Tate, who played in five series wins for Meninga from 2006-13, said Meninga asked the players in his first year with the Maroons how they “wanted to be regarded by the Queensland public, what we stood for as a team’’.
“Mal also drove into us what it meant to play for Queensland and how by 2006 we’d lost our history a little bit,’’ Tate said.
“He put a lot of importance of the milestones for the players in their careers and that became a big thing for most of us. It can be done at the Titans too. “Those things really drove the culture at the Maroons in my opinion.
“I think Mal can make a real success of this at the Titans and it’s a real important appointment by the Titans.’’
Gold Coast finished 14th in coach Garth Brennan’s first year and have finished outside the top 10 in four of the past five seasons. The Titans made the elimination final in 2016.
“He won’t be able to turn it around in one year and they are probably a couple of big names away from being a top echelon club,’’ Tate said.
“They have the makings of it with Ash Taylor and a good crop of kids, but it takes time. They have struggled a little with identity, it’s reasonable to say. Mal will help them create an identity.
“Mal would tell us we had to take ownership of our preparation, down to little things like hydration which add up to big things.’’
Walters said Meninga’s enjoyment of a team environment was central to his ability to speak the language of players.
“It’s something he enjoys and knows is really important,’’ Walters said.
“He is really genuine and honest about what he tells them _ the players pick up on that.’’
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