QUEENSLAND rugby league director Darryl Van de Velde says it is crucial that Maroons hierarchy develop a new wave of Origin coaches following the departure of 2021 mentor Paul Green.
Green endured a turbulent debut campaign at the helm of the Maroons this year, suffering a 2-1 series loss as a raft of injuries, the Ronaldo Mulitalo eligibility saga and the Jai Arrow Covid breach derailed Queensland’s quest for a second consecutive crown.
Despite the incessant setbacks, Green enjoyed his opening term in charge of the Maroons and was keen to plot a revenge mission next season, only for the QRL to inform him they were moving in a different strategic direction.
There was no bad blood. In fact, it was the opposite.
Van de Velde said Queensland bosses were keen to re-hire Green for two or three years, but with the 48-year-old hopeful of eventually returning to work in the NRL, the former Cowboys coach told the QRL he didn’t want to quit the Maroons mid-contract.
QRL powerbrokers are mindful they cannot keep issuing an SOS to Wayne Bennett, who has served four terms, or Mal Meninga, who did a record-breaking 10-year stint that netted nine series wins.
That’s why the Maroons are keen to cultivate a new breed of potential Origin coaches headlined by Queensland legends Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith.
“There was no issue with Paul at all. We were keen for him to go on,” Van de Velde said.
“In the past, we’ve had to make quick decisions when we’ve lost a coach.
“We lost Kevin Walters to the Broncos (last year) and had to bring Wayne Bennett back at short notice.
“Unfortunately Paul wasn’t sure if he could go on for an extended period, so we wanted more certainty with our program.
“It’s important for Queensland’s long-term health that we develop the next generation of coaches.
“It was embarrassing what happened this year. We were well beaten, and we need some mentoring for our coaches from people who understand the culture of Queensland in the Origin arena.
“That knowledge provided by Wayne and Mal can’t be lost on us because it has kept us in the hunt for a long time against NSW.”
Green cherished the job so much he recently delivered a presentation to the QRL outlining his desire to have a more hands-on role with the Maroons.
Aside from coaching the team in 2022, Green was eager to get involved with junior development and beef-up Queensland’s pathways program to ensure the Maroons’ playing depth could withstand the injury crisis they battled this season.
Statistically, only around 20 per cent of the NRL’s 480 contracted full-time players are eligible for Queensland. Green wanted to address that situation.
“I would have liked another year with Queensland,” he said. “I wanted to have another crack because I had some plans around what needed to happen and some areas we needed to improve.
“The position is very prestigious in my eyes, but it was only offered to me as a part-time position.
“I put forward some ideas around where I felt the program needed to improve and I felt more resources needed to be thrown at the Queensland Origin program.
“It’s a bigger job than a part-time role and to give the position its due, the job needed to be resourced a bit better.
“I hate using the words full-time and part-time, but there is more to the success of Queensland than just the head coach’s position.
“The head coach should have a wider influence than just coaching the series and that would have an impact on the outcome of a series moving forward.
“But the QRL chose to go in a different direction and I’m OK with that.”
Green’s debut game ended in tears when the Maroons were beaten by a record 50-6 in Origin I in Townsville.
The Blues then reclaimed the Origin shield with a 26-0 win in Game Two, but Green’s troops showed some fighting spirit with a face-saving 20-18 triumph to avoid a 3-0 clean sweep.
Currently unemployed, Green – FOG No.113 – is keen to return to the NRL and wished his Queensland successor well, admitting coaching in the Origin arena was an eye-opening experience.
“It’s a pretty tough environment Origin, so you need to have experienced what that’s like,” the seven-time Maroon said.
“I would like to coach in the NRL again one day. It’s what I have done, and it’s what I do. The reason I coach is because I find it rewarding.
“I enjoy seeing young blokes get better as players and people and that’s why, despite the challenges, I really enjoyed my time with Queensland.”