Queensland Rugby League is pleased to confirm Mal Meninga will return to Camp Maroon as an assistant to newly-appointed head coach Wayne Bennett.
The Bennett-Meninga alliance will arm the Maroons with the most experienced and successful coaching team in State of Origin history.
Bennett has won five of seven Origin series while in charge of the Maroons, and was at the helm when Queensland won its first series clean sweep in 1988.
Immortal Meninga guided Queensland to an unprecedented eight-straight series wins, and in 2015 he coached the Maroons to their ninth series win in 10 years after an emphatic 52-6 victory in Game III.
Adding further clout to the coaching “Dream Team” is the presence of Neil Henry, a former North Queensland Cowboys and Gold Coast Titans coach who was Meninga’s assistant throughout the Maroons’ record-breaking run.
Meninga’s appointment for next month’s series adds a new chapter to an already extensive association with Bennett, who first coached the champion former centre more than 40 years ago as a teenager.
Meninga was part of the Souths team which won the 1985 Brisbane Rugby League premiership under Bennett, and the duo would later go on to enjoy considerable success together with the Canberra Raiders and Maroons.
“From my perspective, it’s great to be involved and to work under Wayne and the current batch of players is something that I’m really excited about,” Meninga said.
“It’s been a unique year, and with no Test matches, this position allows me to remain in touch with the latest trends in the game.”
Bennett said he was thrilled to have Meninga involved in the team’s preparations.
“Mal will be a great sounding board for myself, support staff and the players,” Bennett said.
“He understands Origin and cares deeply about the maroon jersey and what it means to the people of Queensland. I’m really glad Mal has accepted the role, as his presence alone will be a great asset for us moving forward.”
Today’s announcement comes after the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) granted Meninga permission to be relieved of his Kangaroos responsibilities in the short term.
The QRL has confirmed manager and mentor Petero Civoniceva has stepped down from this year’s series due to work and family commitments.