Henry quits Queensland Origin job
January 19, 2010 - 8:19PM
North Queensland coach Neil Henry has quit as Mal Meninga’s right-hand man with the Queensland State of Origin team to focus solely on the NRL.
Henry’s role as head coach Meninga’s assistant has coincided with the Maroons’ unprecedented four straight Origin series wins since 2006.
The Cowboys boss has been widely credited with adding the tactical nous to Origin great Meninga’s inspirational presence in the Queensland dressing rooms.
But the Cowboys have suffered in his absence and missed the NRL finals last year after being widely tipped as premiership contenders when the season began.
“Being part of the Queensland Origin coaching team is a rewarding experience, and I’m extremely grateful to the QRL for the opportunity and the offer to work alongside Mal Meninga again in 2010,” former Canberra coach Henry said in a Cowboys statement on Tuesday.
"I’ve thought long and hard about this and, to give the Cowboys every opportunity to succeed in 2010, I won’t be part of Origin this year.
"While we’ve always been actively coaching for the club in the lead-up to matches, albeit from a distance, it does take a degree of focus away from the competition.
“Origin is traditionally a challenging time for us, with some of our club stars out of the mix representing their state, but everyone is in the same boat so we want to make sure we make the most of it.”
Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Billy Johnstone will also step down from his role with the Maroons, which he has held since 1998.
“While I’ve been part of Origin for over a decade, the Cowboys’ fitness, match preparation and injury management over a long, tough season ahead are the most important things for me this year,” he said.
I wonder how big Mal will cope with this loss?