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As Mal Meninga celebrated his second World Cup triumph as coach of Australia, Kangaroos squad members Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr said he has earned the right to be considered among the greatest coaches of the modern era.    

In beating Samoa 30-10 in the World Cup final on Sunday morning (AEDT), Meninga took his record as Australia coach to 20 wins in 22 Tests, with his appointment as national team coach coming after a glittering 10-season stint with the Maroons which saw him lead Queensland through a decade of dominance in State of Origin.

Addo-Carr, who spent five seasons under Storm master coach Craig Bellamy before moving to the Bulldogs this year, said Meninga’s ability to manage the squad through the five-week tournament in England meant morale, and performance, remained high all the way through.

“Mal has been there, done that, and he knew what it would take to win a World Cup,” Addo-Carr said.

“We’d only train once a week. We’d have a main day [leading] into captain’s run, and that’s just the experience of Mal and the coaching staff.

“We did have fun off the field, but when it was time to train hard we did, and we played hard at the same time.

Match Highlights: Australia v Samoa

“He’s definitely up there as one of the best. I think I sit him next to Craig Bellamy, just the way he talks, the way he handles things within the team and all that kind of stuff.

Mal is just a wonderful person and I am so blessed for him to have trust in me to do a job for our country.

Josh Addo-Carr

There was similar praise from Mitchell, who played a key role in the victory over Samoa in the decider with a pair of tries.

The South Sydney star said while it was a challenge for players being away from family for so long, Meninga and his coaching staff had done well to foster an environment which made players feel comfortable in camp.

“He is a family man also, and he’s very passionate in the way he conducts himself with his kids and how he is as a man,” Mitchell said of Meninga. 

We all look up to that and that’s why he’s up there with Wayne Bennett as one of the greatest coaches of all time.

Latrell Mitchell

“I don’t think [just] anyone can do the job he does.”

Australia scored 286 points across their six World Cup games, while conceding just 42. 

Big game Latrell to the fore

Among those who have coached the Kangaroos in at least 20 matches, Meninga now has the second-best winning percentage (90.9 percent), trailing only Don Furner – who was Meninga’s coach for part of his playing career with Kangaroos and coached him at the Raiders – who won 93.5 percent of his 31 games in charge of the green and gold.

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