Cameron Smith backs Meninga to lead Maroons' Origin fightback

RUGBY LEAGUE

Mal Meninga at a Queensland training session. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Mal Meninga at a Queensland training session. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Queensland skipper Cameron Smith believes coach Mal Meninga has the Maroons coaching job as long as he wants it even if they succumb to a Blues whitewash for the first time in 14 years on Wednesday night.

Meninga's agreement with the QRL ends next year and Smith urged the most successful coach in Origin history to continue in the role beyond next year's series.

"I'd love Mal to coach for as long as he'd like to. I think he's the guy who can really put his hand up and claim those eight straight series victories," Smith said.

"I think we were struggling for confidence and self-belief but, as soon as he joined the squad in 2006 that was what we he really brought back to the squad and really instilled in each individual - have belief in yourself and in each other that you can go out and beat NSW.

"He's continued that for a long time and he's certainly by no means past his [use by] date.

"He's a tremendous coach and a tremendous man that we all look up to an respect and I'd like to see him go on."

After losing his first series as coach, Meninga appeared under the pump this week after he cancelled media engagements on Monday but Smith said the coach was the most composed member of the squad in the wake of the Game II loss.

"We came into the sheds after the game and there wasn't really a whole lot being said and there wasn't much to say," Smith said.

"[for] Most of the guys in there it was the first time they've experienced an Origin defeat.

"I think there was only myself Jonathan Thurston, Billy Slater and Corey Parker who'd lost a series. The rest of them had all been involved in this incredible run.

"The one guy that was extremely positive about the result, if you could find a positive, was Mal. He came in and spoke about the amount of effort that we put into the first two matches of this series and what we've gone through over the past eight years to put ourselves in the position we're in.

"He was extremely proud of, not only what we've done the past eight years, but what we've gone out and tried to do in the first two matches."

Smith denied a weight was lifted off his side and said they still felt the pressure to ensure they aren't swept by the Blues.

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