North Queensland Cowboys Coach Neil Henry and Strength & Conditioning Coach Billy Johnstone will not continue their roles in the Queensland State of Origin camp in 2010 to enable full focus on this year’s NRL competition.
Henry has been assistant coach of the Maroons since 2006, while Johnstone has performed the role of strength and conditioning coach since 1998.
While the decision was a difficult one, Henry says that it was a logical move.
“Being part of the Queensland Origin coaching team is a rewarding experience, and I’m extremely grateful to the QRL for the opportunity and the offer to work alongside Mal Meninga again in 2010.
“I’ve thought long and hard about this, and to give the Cowboys every opportunity to succeed in 2010, I won’t be part of Origin this year.
“While we’ve always been actively coaching for the club in the lead-up to matches, albeit from a distance, it does take a degree of focus away from the competition.
“Origin is traditionally a challenging time for us, with some of our club stars out of the mix representing their state, but everyone is in the same boat, so we want to make sure we make the most of it.”
For Billy Johnstone, ensuring that the Cowboys are match-ready, week in, week out, will be the priority.
“While I’ve been part of Origin for over a decade, the Cowboys’ fitness, match preparation and injury management over a long, tough season ahead are the most important things for me this year.
“I’ve always been honoured to be asked back for Origin each year – you don’t turn down that kind of offer easily.”