League: Hagan returns to Origin arena

Former Queensland coach Michael Hagan will assist Mal Meninga in this year’s State of Origin series. Photo / Getty Images
Former Queensland coach Michael Hagan will assist Mal Meninga in this year’s State of Origin series. Photo / Getty Images

BRISBANE - Fifteen months after abruptly ending his coaching career, Michael Hagan will in 2010 return in a key role with the Queensland State of Origin team.

The Queensland Rugby League confirmed yesterday Hagan would be Maroons coach Mal Meninga's assistant as Queensland strive for a fifth straight series victory.

The 2001 Newcastle premiership mentor, who also led Queensland to Origin series losses in 2004 and 2005, hasn't coached since leaving Parramatta at the end of 2008 due to stress-related health problems.

But Hagan said he couldn't knock back the chance to return in a perfectly-tailored role after receiving a "surprise" call from Meninga.

"I'm happy to take a secondary role," Hagan said.

"The last time around it was so frenetic that I can hardly recall how difficult it was at the time but this time around it should be more relaxed.

"I didn't have much interest in coaching a team every week but this is a very privileged offer I received and I'm very happy to accept it."

Hagan, who played five matches for the Maroons in the late 1980s, signs on as Meninga's right-hand man after Neil Henry opted to step away from the assistant's post to completely focus on the Cowboys' NRL campaign.

The appointment means for the first time both Queensland's head coach and assistant will not have club ties.

Meninga, who has led the Maroons to four straight series wins since taking over from Hagan, was delighted to team up with his former Maroons teammate.

"He's been around the traps and has played and coached at this level before," Meninga said.

"He'll fit in very well with our team set up and his tactical and technical knowledge will be a major asset."

Hagan denied he saw his Origin involvement as an opportunity to complete some unfinished business after the Maroons lost both his series in charge 2-1.

In that time, he ushered the likes Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Scott Prince into the interstate showpiece.

"I was part of (guiding) a group of players that started their Origin careers and now it's a team that's been together for four or five years," Hagan said.

"I'm just more than happy to be involved and hope I can help that continuing.

"You certainly can't presume everything will fall into line for you.

"NSW will take confidence from their last game (a 28-16 win in Brisbane) and they are rebuilding now."

The 2010 Origin series will kick off on May 26 at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.

- AAP

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