While previously it was Queensland’s Mal Meninga being touted; now it seems Tigers veteran mentor Tim Sheens and even the Gold Coast’s John Cartwright are in the frame. However it’s believed that Hasler and Sheens are the lead runners at this stage. Meninga while popular, probably needs more time at the coaching helm after being in the background for many years; returning in recent times during the Origin series in tandem with Neil Henry.
John Cartwright is a bolter choice, but while only junior in his coaching experience – he has proved himself at the Titans so far, and spent many years as the assistance to Stuart at the Roosters.
Meninga apparently still wants a shot at the gig, but has been denied by ARL policy, which says a State of Origin coach cannot also run the national team.
It is understood Cartwright will be sounded out after impressing Kangaroos players as an assistant to Stuart during the World Cup late last year. But the ARL is also keen to interview Hasler after he steered Manly to their first premiership in 12 years last season.
ARL chief executive Geoff Carr will finalise a shortlist over the next fortnight before announcing the new coach after a board meeting around mid-February.
“I’m not going to talk about who’s favourite and who’s not, but I will make discreet inquiries with a couple of coaches and give the board a shortlist,” Carr said.
“Generally your best coach is going to be involved in the NRL.
“There’s a few coaches I have in mind, so I’ll move on it in the next few weeks and I’m expecting we’ll make a decision some time in February.”
Hasler said he wouldn’t seriously consider coaching Australia until formally approached by the ARL.
Hasler remained elusive on the 2KY Big Sports Breakfast this morning when interviewed by Jimmy Smith; saying he also require input from Manly officials as to his ability to take on the new role – should he be offered it. The Hasler fit could be a good one at national level; the role naturally requiring a good rapport with players; however the majority of focus is on match fitness plus squad and player rotations before and during matches.
Hasler would fit the bill here well. He would add value to the team, without upsetting the apple cart. Obviously the top line players don’t need detailed coaching at this level, it’s more motivation and being interchanged at the right times.
“The Australian job is something that you never put your hand up for,” he said. “It’s something you’re invited to do. Until that happens for me, it’s speculation. It would be a wonderful honour and, of course, I’d give it serious consideration, but I have a big enough job here at Manly.”
Cartwright has pedigree as a former NSW and Test back-rower, and Titans managing director Michael Searle said he would have no problem with his coach accepting the Kangaroos post.