Mal Meninga isn’t concerned with Phil Gould’s criticism. Picture: Dave Hunt
Mal Meninga isn’t concerned with Phil Gould’s criticism. Picture: Dave Hunt

Big Mal hits back at Gus, vows to finish Titans job

MAL Meninga has refused to get into a slanging match with Phil Gould, saying attacks on his credibility "used to hurt me a long time ago but not anymore".

But Meninga was adamant no amount of criticism would force him to walk away from his job as Gold Coast Titans head of culture and performance "until it is done". 

Meninga also opened up about the mental health struggles that continue to trouble Ash Taylor, revealing the $1 million playmaker was unlikely to play NRL again this season.

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Gould launched a scathing attack on Meninga's role at the Titans this week on Channel Nine's 100% Footy.

"I don't know what Mal's part in all this is," Gould said. "He seems to be there doing reviews, but not putting his hand up for the results.

"He was put there for performance and culture and I haven't seen any performances or any culture development in all the time that he has been there."

Asked about Gould's comments, Meninga said: "Everyone is entitled to their opinion. No one understands what is going on internally except us.

Gould questioned Meninga’s role at the Titans. Picture: Tony Feder
Gould questioned Meninga’s role at the Titans. Picture: Tony Feder

"We believe in what we are doing. That is all that really matters with me to be honest with you. Those sort of opinions don't worry me."

Meninga only took on the role at the Titans nine months ago, while Gould held the position as Penrith general manager for eight years without premiership success.

"I am happy with my role here," Meninga added. "I am challenged by it. But there are good people working hard behind the scenes to make sure we have a sustainable and successful future.

"I have a three-year agreement here. If we get it up and going and it is functioning beautifully next year, and they don't need my support anymore, I will move on. If it takes the three years I will do that. If they want me around (after that), I will do that as well. I am not leaving until it is done, put it that way."

Meninga defended his decision not to take over the coaching role. Picture: Dave Hunt
Meninga defended his decision not to take over the coaching role. Picture: Dave Hunt

Meninga also defended his decision not to take over as caretaker coach following Garth Brennan's sacking, and said Craig Hodges and Luke Burt would continue in the role until Justin Holbrook's arrival.

"That is not my role here," Meninga said. "And to be pretty blunt, I am coaching the Kangaroos, so I can't be coaching two teams."

Part of the deal when Meninga took over as Australia's Test coach was that he would not coach an NRL team.

Meanwhile, Taylor returned to the top grade in last Sunday's embarrassing 58-6 loss to the Sydney Roosters.

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But instead of taking on St George Illawarra this Saturday, Taylor will run out for the Tweed Seagulls in the Intrust Super Cup.

Meninga said Taylor's mental wellbeing was the priority right now.

"We thought he might be OK and he felt that he might be OK but he is not in a position to play first grade footy at the moment," Meninga said. 

"He is still at training, still trying to find his way. We have a duty of care. His mental health is a lot more important than playing footy." 

Meninga conceded "some tough decisions" would be made in relation to roster management in the coming months.

"I guess they are a little bit on show the next few weeks," he said.

News Corp Australia


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