Meninga hailed as Kangaroos' best coach

Nov 15, 2017

Mal Meninga has been hailed as arguably the greatest Kangaroos coach after becoming the first Australian coach to win his first 10 Test matches.

Saturday's win over Lebanon means Meninga's side remains unbeaten since he took over from Tim Sheens almost two years ago.

Former coaches Chris Anderson, Bob Fulton and Ricky Stuart won nine of their opening 10 Tests, while Wayne Bennett, Reg Gasnier and Sheens had eight victories.

Don Furner won his first 24 matches in charge of the Kangaros, however, more than half of them were against English and French club sides during the 1986 tour of Europe.

"You can't compare different eras but when it comes to man-management, he's the best I've seen," former Kangaroos back-rower and current assistant coach Trevor Gillmeister told AAP.

"That's what he's very good at, he knows his strengths and he gets us old blokes to fit in."

Centre Josh Dugan, who made his Test debut in Sheens' final match with the clipboard in 2015, recalled the changes Meninga has introduced during his tenure.

"It was a bit of a disrupted week. We were supposed to play Friday, we had that massive storm in Brisbane, we got moved to Sunday and New Zealand put on a clinic on us," Dugan said.

"It was a tough welcoming to the Australian squad but since then it's been smooth sailing."

And the primary factor has been Meninga, whose prior to his appointment had steered Queensland to an unprecedented eight-straight series wins over NSW.

Dugan said one of Meninga's toughest tasks was healing the divide he inadvertently created.

"There was a little bit of that divide between Queensland and NSW but ever since Mal's taken over, he's put a massive emphasis on green and gold, Dugan said.

"We're all here to represent Australia and do our best for our country.

"I think everyone's done that to a tee and everyone's done their families and themselves proud."

Dugan also remembers that the loss to the Kiwis resulted in Australia dropping to No.2 in the world for the first time since the rankings system began.

It was also the first time Australia had lost to New Zealand in three-straight Tests.

"It's pretty surreal to think that before this we were No.2 in the world and struggling for cohesion," Dugan said.

"Mal comes in and he's big on culture and representing the past and the present. He's totally flipped the script on everything.

"That's the biggest thing for me, showing that respect of the jersey ... "

The Kangaroos have had a light week preparing for their quarter-final against Samoa in Darwin, having a closed training session on Tuesday before enjoying Wednesday off.

KANGAROOS COACHES AFTER 10 GAMES

10 wins, zero losses: Mal Meninga

Nine wins, one loss: Chris Anderson, Bob Fulton, Ricky Stuart, Don Furner

Eight wins, one draw, one loss: Wayne Bennett, Reg Gasnier, Tim Sheens

Eight wins, two losses: Graeme Langlands

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