FORMER Queensland State of Origin captain Trevor “The Axe” Gillmeister is officially “back in the game”, joining Mal Meninga’s coaching staff with the Australian Kangaroos for the Prime Minister’s XIII match against PNG and the end-of-year Four Nations tournament in the UK.
Gillmeister, captain of one of the Maroons’ greatest victories in the 1995 clean sweep, will remain a part of Kevin Walters’ Queensland set-up on top of his duties with the Test team.
One of the most respected players of his generation, and among the most feared defenders in the game’s history, Gillmeister brings enormous experience to both roles after a decorated career as a player, and as a former assistant coach at the Titans.
Gilly said he was “over the moon” about reuniting with Meninga at Test level, having worked together for the best part of a decade during Big Mal’s reign as Origin coach.
“Mate, honestly, it is a terrific honour to be asked by Mal to work with the Kangaroos,” Gillmeister said. “You can’t really get much better from my point of view – my direct involvement with the game is now purely with Queensland and Australia.
“How can you get better than that?
“I’m really excited about being involved. It is just great working with the players at this elite level, and to have the chance to stay involved in the game at Origin and Test level is just terrific.
“I am very thankful to the Queensland Rugby League that they had no problems about me taking on the Kangaroos job on top of my Origin commitments, and I appreciate their generous support in backing me for the job.”
Meninga, who is overseeing an overhaul of Test football at the head of the Kangaroos, said Gillmeister was the perfect fit for the Australian team.
“Obviously I have worked with Gilly for a long time with Queensland, and I know what a difference he can make to a team,” Meninga said.
“I was very keen to have someone working with the forwards who was also a defensive specialist, and obviously there are none better than Gilly in that regard.
“But what I also learned from experience with Queensland is how important Gilly is to maintaining standards, discipline and culture within a team, especially in a camp environment, which we will experience while we are overseas for several week.
“Gilly knows the importance of enjoying yourself and enjoying our footy, but not at the expense of compromising the expectations and standards the public expects from us and that we demand from ourselves.
“I know Gilly will be a tremendous asset to what we are trying to build with the Kangaroos leading into next year’s Rugby League World Cup.”