The Maroons are considering an unorthodox succession plan involving a group of retired legendary players, after announcing Wayne Bennett will not coach Queensland in 2021.
According to reports, Bennett’s departure has Maroons officials tossing up a shock plan of involving retired legends like Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Justin Hodges, and Cooper Cronk to lead the team in the near future.
It’s understood the QRL may hire Paul Green in the role for 2021, but then replace him with one or a combination of those former players before the 2022 series.
“The ones that come to mind are Slater, Cameron Smith, Hodges and those guys,” QRL chairman Bruce Hartcher told News Corp.
“It’s not as simple as just being a coach for six weeks. We’ve still got a camp-based system with the Queensland Academy of Sport. We need to communicate and watch players playing to make sure they’re ready to come through.
“The coach can’t just turn up for the three Origin games.
“We would prefer to bring one of those guys in under the coaching leadership of an experienced coach (like Green).”
However Green’s stint could be short-lived, with the premiership winning coach keen on resuming his NRL coaching career.
“With Paul Green I’m sure within a year he will have an NRL job and he expresses the view that is his priority,” Hartcher added.
“We will go through a process because there have been players who have been exceptional at NRL level but don’t want to be a fulltime coach and would throw their hat in the ring to be an Origin coach.”
The QRL boss said the Maroons were grateful for Bennett offering his services in 2020 and will have a coach assigned early this year.
“We were really grateful that Wayne made himself available to help us out last year,” Queensland Rugby League managing director Robert Moore said.
“He was the perfect fit for the role with the players we had and the situation we were in, together with his assistants Neil Henry and Mal Meninga, it was an outstanding coaching set up that laid the foundations for one of our state’s greatest series wins.
“We understand the decision Wayne has made in his last year of his contract with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, as he’s eager to concentrate his efforts on them because they’ve been so close (to a premiership).
“With Wayne’s decision, we’ve now moved to a process to consider the next appointment and we anticipate that process will be completed early this year.”