Choppy tells: This is how Mal Meninga does what he does

CHRIS "Choppy" Close was man of the match in the first two State of Origin games.

His back-hander to the face of NSW winger Eric Grothe in 1981 remains one of the great images of Origin.

A man mountain of a centre, he was deceptively quick with a great swerve that made him even harder to tackle.

Close played 194 NRL games, 99 of them for Manly.

Chris "Choppy" Close

But perhaps his biggest contribution to Queensland came when he was Maroons manager for a decade from 1995, inspiring players and carrying on the work of his mentor Dick Turner who was responsible for many series wins.


Here is Choppy's insight into Queensland coach Mal Meninga, and the team's winning culture.

NOT one of the 17 players wearing a Maroon jumper in Sydney tonight will take the field against the Blues driven by the threat it could be their last State of Origin game if we lose.

That's not the way, and has never been the way, Queensland does business.

And I can tell you for sure, it's certainly not the way Mal Meninga operates.

STATE OF ORIGIN: Get amongst it!

That's not to say if Queensland performs as disappointingly as Australia did recently against New Zealand that questions won't be asked before the side is selected for game two.

But neither the rookies nor the older, more senior players who have done the job in the past will be threatened with a 'perform or else' ultimatum.

Mal Meninga
Mal Meninga David Stuart

Mal makes sure every player who pulls on a Maroons jumper for the first, or the 30th time knows the history behind it, the pride and the passion and the honour that goes with being trusted to wear it. Every single player knows what's expected of him.

After the Kangaroos' disappointing Test performance, I have to admit I was starting to question the ethos of sticking with the same players, trying to squeeze the last drop out of the lemon.

But when Mal picked the team and laid out his reasons, it was very difficult to be critical of any player he had chosen.

A few things need to be said about Mal.

Firstly he is a very astute and accomplished coach.

He would have already got the message through to his players: "You know what, guys, we really need to get back where we were".

But he would have done it with words and stories of past deeds, not with threats.

In his heart he would also know he will have to look very closely at their performances should we get beaten.

Origin is a wonderful time of the year for so many reasons.

I can remember Tosser (the late Dick Turner, Queensland's manager of the

century) would get the players together and tell them he had a telegram from the Premier of the day.

He would say:

"I have got a telegram here from the Premier I have to read to you all.

"Queensland expects every man to do their duty."

Most of us knew he never got any such telegram, but nobody ever said anything.

Tosser's words will be remembered in the dressing room tonight ... no doubt.

As corny as it sounds, Queensland does expect everybody to do their duty.


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