‘Too early’ for iconic trio to coach Maroons

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns says it’s too early for the dream team coaching trio of Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston to take over at the Maroons.

In the wake of Paul Green’s shock exit from the Maroons, Slater has emerged as the frontrunner to land the head coaching duties of the Maroons.

Slater, who retired at the end of 2018, was sounded out for the role before it was subsequently handed to the former Cowboys coach.

While Slater finds his name again in the mix, the potential of a three-man coaching team consisting of the legendary fullback, along with former Queensland teammates Smith and Thurston, has also been floated.

But Johns claims the timing isn’t right for the trio and suggested Queensland look at luring back either Mal Meninga or Wayne Bennett, who have both enjoyed huge success at Origin level.

“I think it’s a stand-alone position,” Johns told Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and The Eighth.

“The two people who stand out are Mal Meninga, whether he can do both the Australian team and also Queensland, and if Wayne Bennett doesn’t get a start next year.

“They’re the obvious choices.

“I just think it’s a bit early for those blokes [Slater, Smith and Thurston].

“That’s just what I think, I think it’s a bit early.”

Blues coach Brad Fittler, who has won three of the past four Origin series, said coaching is a one-man job before questioning whether the trio would have the experience to step up into the role.

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“You would have one coach and then a couple of assistants,” Fittler said.

“I’m sure they could put together a really good coaching staff. I suppose the one thing they do miss is having the experience of coaching. None of them have coached.

“I know Johnathan Thurston was an assistant this year and I’m sure he would’ve learnt from that.

“My best lessons were learnt coaching the (NSW) 16s and 18s for a number of years, where all those players have come through and I have great relationships with all of them.

“I reckon at least half a dozen, 10 of those players are either in the team or right on the fringe. I found that taught me more than anything – coaching the kids and getting the best out of the kids, and watching them come through and building relationships from a young age.”

Responding to Fittler’s comments, Johns said the “little things” that go into coaching are vital to understand before taking on the challenge.

“I agree with Freddy (Fittler),” Johns added.

“I think you’ve got to be in that sort of system, I think understanding the pressure.

“Even little things like how to manage the interchange and things like that.

“I’m sure they would do a great job, but if I was advising them I would think it’s too early for them to do it.”

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