Queensland coach Mal Meninga last night called on the ARL Commission to prevent Tim Sheens's departure by making the national post a full-time position - a move that would also defuse Sheens's looming brawl with Wests Tigers.
On the eve of the Townsville test against New Zealand, Sheens - who was still involved in wrangling with his club after they sacked him as head coach - said he would relinquish the test job after next year's World Cup in Britain and Ireland.
He was yet to be appointed Australia coach for next year, although this was regarded as a formality.
The Herald late yesterday contacted Meninga, his rival Origin coach Laurie Daley and Sheens's test predecessor Ricky Stuart to gauge their interest in the post.
All were former proteges of Sheens at Canberra. Daley said ''definitely not'' while Stuart declined to comment.
Meninga, whose relationship with Sheens goes back to 1988, said: ''Maybe if they offered Tim a full-time job, he wouldn't leave.
''I think the Australian coaching position should definitely be full-time.
‘‘Sure, the person involved would coach the team for tests and tours, but they would also promote the game around Australia and worldwide.
''We are just about to have a lot of money come into the sport and we need an experienced coach to head up the strategic planning.
‘‘It would be good for someone with a complete understanding of the grassroots right up to the elite level.
‘‘Other sports in Australia and overseas do it, I don't know why rugby league can't.''
Sheens has been offered alternative employment at Wests Tigers and would not comment on his response yesterday.
His murky future was the main talking point yesterday as two injury-free teams prepared to do battle in front of a sold-out 26,500 crowd at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Meninga did not rule himself out of the running for the Australia job but said it would be better suited to a man with recent NRL experience.
When Sheens was asked yesterday if the post could be full-time, he responded: ''That's a good question. We probably, technically, coach more games than the Origin [coaches] do - although the Origin, obviously, generates a lot more cash and a lot more profile, which is unfortunate for the Australian side.''
Earlier, when asked about reports he would stand aside at the end of next year, he said: ''Yeah, I would be thinking that.
''It would be a five-year cycle since the last World Cup. I sort of started with that, even though I didn't make it too public: trying to win back the trophies we held. The Four Nations - we held it and lost it. That isn't played now until after next year.
''The main focus now would be the World [Cup]. My main aim would be to get that and then at the end of the year, I'd be standing down. Yes. They're talking about the Anzac Day Test in Gallipoli in two years' time. That would be lovely but that's a fair way away.''
Wests Tigers, trying to avoid a payout of up to $1 million after dumping Sheens, would no doubt support Meninga's call. But if Sheens was to accept alternative employment at this stage, it could endanger his hopes of a full payout from the joint venture.
Sheens said he was ''never in for'' the Warriors job.
''I was never, particularly, looking to go there. I was too focused on this and sorting out my issues with the Tigers,'' he said.
''I always said when this was done, we'd sit down and sort things out.''
- Sydney Morning Herald
Who do you think will win the Rugby League World Cup?