Mal making early mark at Titans
THE cultural values that have underpinned Mal Meninga's record-breaking coaching career are already taking shape at the Gold Coast Titans as the newest Immortal fights to transform the club into a premiership force.
While Meninga's appearances at Parkwood have so far been limited as he makes the transition from Canberra, Titans forward Keegan Hipgrave said the 58-year-old had made an immediate impression in his new role as head of performance and culture.
An emphasis on culture has been a key pillar in Meninga's coaching philosophy since taking over the Queensland job in 2006, where he won nine of 10 State of Origin series including eight in a row.
He then began his stint at the helm of the Kangaroos with a 13-match unbeaten run - highlighted by the 2017 World Cup triumph - before suffering his first loss as national coach against New Zealand in October.Hipgrave, whose two seasons at the Titans have resulted in finishes of 15th and 14th, said establishing a winning culture was a goal the three-time premiership captain could prove invaluable in achieving.
"We had a culture building session (with Meninga) the other day with where we want to go and what we want to do so we've had a little bit of time with him," the 21-year-old said.
"He's obviously had so much success with the Queensland side and the Australian side, so just having him there looking over everything and putting his two cents in when it's needed (is helpful). It is good having him around because he's had so much success."
After making his NRL debut in the final round of last year, Hipgrave's 2018 campaign was stymied by a transition from prop to a new role in the second row.
But having found his feet in the back half of the season, the former Australian Schoolboys star is confident the change will be the making of him.
"It was a new position for me (in the second row) and I was just inexperienced at it so (transitioning) this year really gave me a lot more confidence. I think I found my feet a little bit," he said.
"I just want to play consistent first grade (in 2019). I'm just going to keep doing my job.
"The top eight is 100 per cent reachable for us and definitely a goal of ours moving forward for sure."