Minus his kilt but Big Mal still inspires
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.