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Renouf: Bring back Mal to help instil belief into Maroons

Paul Green needs to get some belief back into the Queensland side before Origin II.

I know Greeny has got a lot of experienced guys around that team with Johnathan Thurston, Neil Henry and Nate Myles, but if I was him I would be calling Mal Meninga back for the next camp.

Wayne Bennett did it last year - he had the perfect coaching team with him and it worked a treat to get those young Maroons playing better than ever.

Now is not the time to be too proud.

You need to get the whole team together and I think big Mal would be perfect to just come in and have a chat to the boys.

He was always great at getting players ready for Origin and to elevate themselves to new levels of performance.

We don’t have the same depth of talent of NSW. They’ve always had that advantage but what Queenslanders can do is play above themselves.

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Queensland will need to improve a lot in a short preparation but as I said last week, they don’t need to panic at the selection table. The players can do the job, they just need to be ready to play the game of their lives.

What is concerning and may be part of a bigger problem is how the performance of our three Queensland NRL clubs is impacting the Maroons now and into the future.

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I read Phil Gould’s tweet after Origin I where he said: “Bronco, Titan, Cowboy, Queensland Maroon. What are we seeing here? Has anyone put 2 and 2 together yet? Have you worked out what’s really going wrong?”

Now I’m not one to take advice from a New South Welshman, particularly at Origin time, but it made sense.

It’s certainly something we need to look at because there is a problem with the talent coming through. We’ve always relied upon Queensland talent from these three clubs but it’s just not there at the moment.

In Origin I the Broncos had one Queensland player, Xavier Coates who is leaving next year, the Titans had four and the Cowboys two.

Those clubs are not filling the Queensland team like they used to.

The Broncos have conceded 130 points in three weeks. The Cowboys had 50 points put on them last week and the Titans have lost four of their past five games. It’s hardly the type of form you want players bringing with them into Origin camp.

There are a lot of good Maroons players who aren’t at Queensland clubs.

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That is a problem of the clubs and their recruiting because they’ve either lost these guys or failed to identify them on their radar back in the day when they were younger.

I would’ve thought after the Darren Lockyer era the Broncos would’ve found a good Queensland half by now, but they’ve made mistakes with their recruiting and retention and now Brisbane are fighting at the bottom of the NRL table.

Look at the NSW team and you’ve got to respect Gus not only for his opinion because he was a smart coach, but for the role he played at Penrith who are now top of the table, premiership favourites and brought through a bunch of juniors who are now leading the way for NSW.

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Queensland have been lucky in years past that Melbourne have provided some key players in key positions who’ve brought their culture and winning attitude into camp.

Now that the likes of Smith, Slater and Cronk have retired you can see the Storm are still strong in the NRL because their recruiter Paul Bunn, who used to be at the Broncos, is smart and he knows talent.

He doesn’t use a scattergun approach.

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He is very specific about it and Craig Bellamy is very specific about telling him what he wants and to go find it.

I know Kevin Walters wants to bring more Queensland players home and the Titans have made it a focus of their recruitment, so in time the change will happen, but until they start playing like finals teams it’s going to be tougher for players to lift for Origin when they’re coming off heavy NRL losses.

The three Queensland clubs have still got a way to go to get back to the top and we could have a fourth Queensland team in the Telstra Premiership by 2023 so the competition for talent is going to be harder.

But hopefully over time it will increase the opportunities for Queensland kids to play at the elite level and if we grow the talent base and get our clubs firing again it will help the Maroons take it to NSW every year too.

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The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.