Mi­nus his kilt but Big Mal still in­spires

Townsville Bulletin - - Sports -

IT wasn’t the key to the Cow­boys’ suc­cess on Fri­day but hav­ing Mal Meninga at train­ing be­fore the big game cer­tainly didn’t hurt.

Meninga’s visit to the Cow­boys’ closed train­ing session at Lang­lands Park on Thurs­day came the day be­fore what be­came a glo­ri­ous night for the blue and grey.

But far from de­liv­er­ing a mono­logue in the ver­sion of that fa­mous Wil­liam Wal­lace pep talk in the movie Brave­heart, Cow­boys gen­eral man­ager of foot­ball Peter Parr said Meninga sim­ply walked around and caught up with some fa­mil­iar faces from the Ma­roons camp.

Parr said Meninga’s pres­ence at the field session did not form a cru­cial part of North Queens­land’s pre-game plans, but it was wel­come nonethe­less.

‘‘ It was noth­ing too dra­matic, he just mainly talked to blokes in­di­vid­u­ally and it was more catch­ing up with peo­ple that he’s associated with at our club,’’ he said.

‘‘ He’s ob­vi­ously a le­gend, he’s al­ways had a good rap­port with peo­ple in our club so when you see a bloke like that around it al­ways gives ev­ery­one a lift.

‘‘ A lot of play­ers have plenty of re­spect for him and for some of our young blokes it was the first op­por­tu­nity to meet him, and I think that would have given them a lift.’’

And they did, prov­ing more than a match for the Bron­cos in flair, com­mit­ment and in­ten­sity. Meninga’s visit in­cluded one-to-one chats with North Queens­land coach Neil Henry and tack­ling ma­chine Dal­las John­son.

Parr said Meninga’s im­promptu visit was planned by the Ori­gin great him­self.

‘‘ All that hap­pened was Mal gave Neil a ring and he was keen to catch up and say hello to the boys that he had been in­volved with at Ori­gin, so he just called in to train­ing,’’ Parr said.

‘‘ Ob­vi­ously he’s ( Meninga) got a good re­la­tion­ship with Neil and he’s got a close re­la­tion­ship with a num­ber of our play­ers so it was al­ways good to see him.

‘‘ So it was more catch­ing up with Neil and a few of the play­ers, it wasn’t a planned part of our prepa­ra­tions for the game.’’

The Meninga and Henry com­bi­na­tion is a suc­cess­ful one.

Henry was as­sis­tant coach to Meninga dur­ing the 2006 to 2009 Ori­gin se­ries and in those four years the pair over­saw an un­beaten string of se­ries wins.

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