A Cowboys reunion with Johnathan Thurston has been touted for newly minted Maroons coach Paul Green as he dismissed suggestions of a falling out with Queensland stars Michael Morgan and Kalyn Ponga.
On Thursday Green was officially announced as Wayne Bennett's State of Origin successor, signed on a one-year deal with a 2022 option in the state's favour.
The 2015 premiership-winning coach will get his feet under the desk at QRL headquarters on Friday, one of his first tasks being to assemble a coaching staff as Queensland defend the 2020 series triumph that ranks as one of the greatest upsets in Origin history.
A "humbled and committed" Green said on Thursday his support staff will be finalised "over the next couple of weeks".
QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher said Thurston's involvement was not a fait accompli for 2021 but has been raised by his old club coach, with Thurston also previously indicating he'd be willing to get the Cowboys band back together in Queensland camp.
"He's stated right from the word go that JT would probably be in camp again, that's another exciting situation," Hatcher told NRL.com.
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"It will be interesting to see what his support staff are, obviously he's got free rein to go ahead with all that and that'll be one of the first jobs.
"It's still to be sorted through and it will be Greeny's call.
"But obviously they have a very strong relationship and JT's done a lot before with Kevvie (former coach Kevin Walters), he's come into camp and had an impact with both Queensland and Australia."
Thurston won the Clive Churchill medal in North Queensland's historic 2015 premiership under Green's stewardship, while Morgan threw the iconic flick pass that sent the grand final into extra time.
But during his first press conference as Maroons coach Green was questioned about his relationship with Morgan and Ponga in more recent times, amid speculation of a rift with both as his Cowboys tenure turned sour.
Green and Morgan made headlines in 2019 when word of a heated argument in front of sponsors leaked out, then-Cowboys chairman Laurence Lancini acknowledging "Greeny apparently said something about his leadership" at the time.
Both player and coach insisted the air had been cleared afterwards, while Ponga left North Queensland for Newcastle in a move that has been criticised given his rise and the Cowboys' fall since.
Neither Morgan or Ponga played in last year's Origin campaign due to injury, with Green denying any lingering issues from their time together in Townsville.
"A lot of that stuff is general talk. As far as I'm aware I don't have any problems with those guys," Green said on Thursday
"I don't see that as an issue at all. If 'Morgo' is part of the conversation around Origin time, that means he has playing well."
Green's talks with the QRL escalated last week when he allayed concerns that his obvious premiership credentials will see him in likely contention for an NRL coaching job the next time one resurfaces.
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While there was a push for champion fullback Billy Slater to be considered for the role, the current Maroons selector was not formally interviewed by the QRL.
The notion of a Maroons succession plan around the likes of Slater, Thurston and other champion players being groomed for coaching roles will continue to be explored according to Hatcher.
"We'll look at how we can help those guys if they're genuinely interested in giving them the best possible way to get learn and train those coaching skills," he said.
"You have to equip them to be prepared for any involvement, it's not just saying 'he's played 20 Origins, he could do it'."
For Green, the focus is solely on this year's series and building on the foundations laid with 14 debutants blooded under Bennett, boosted by the potential for Ponga, Morgan, David Fifita and Moses Mbye among others to be available once more.
"I was lucky enough to play in the 2001 series and last year had a lot of parallels to that series," Green said.
"I learnt a lot from Wayne but you have to be your own man as well.
"Wayne and Mal (assistant coach Mal Meninga) did a tremendous job last year and it's a wonderful thing to be coming into.
"Some of those guys will get so much confidence out of last year and the fact that some of those young guys got that experience, I think it's a good platform to build on. I'm looking forward to working with them."