Queensland coach Mal Meninga says he will consult with the Maroons’ senior players about how best to prepare the team for a record-shattering eighth consecutive State of Origin crown.
“I need to have a serious talk with individual players about what their expectations are for next year, and where they see the team’s program going to,” Mal told fogs.com.au. “I think it is something that is really important.
“I will have a good discussion with them, taking into consideration their workloads and what they think works best in preparing successfully.”
Mal admits he was blown away by the sheer physicality of the 2012 series, and said the Maroon’s future planning will revolve around how to best maintain the players in the face of the unrelenting battering they take during the course of a season.
“I have an obligation to look after these players, and I have an obligation to the club to return their assets to them in the best possible shape,” Mal said. “That will be at the forefront of our preparation.
“And that is not something that I will be able to do on my own. The players are the ones who are best placed to know what works and what can be improved to ease the load on them during an Origin series.”
“So I am looking forward to talking to them to work out what we can do better.”
Mal said making sure Queensland’s preparation kept evolving with the way the game was played was paramount to maintaining the Maroons’ success.
“You should always try to improve what you do, and for us there is a real challenge in making the camps as stimulating as they can be,” he said.
“The last thing we want is for the experience of playing for Queensland to become routine for them, because it will only lead to them becoming mentally stale.”
“The players have been there for a number of years now, so it is important for us to keep changing things up and improving.”
With the core playing group having been together since the modern era of success started in 2006, Meninga said it presented a new challenge in managing the workload on ageing bodies.
“We always keep a eye on what is coming around the corner, and it is no secret that our core playing group are getting older,” he said. “So we structure our camps around what the player needs.”
“For the senior players, there is no real need to have the legs run off them at training, so we concentrate on rest and recovery to make sure they are at their best when it comes time to play.”