Brad Fittler remains among the frontrunners for the NSW State of Origin coach's role.
Brad Fittler remains among the frontrunners for the NSW State of Origin coach's role. DAN HIMBRECHTS

League chiefs make crucial call on State of Origin coach

RUGBY LEAGUE: Michael Maguire and Des Hasler remain in the mix to coach the Blues after NSW Rugby League chiefs confirmed on Friday they would announce Laurie Daley's replacement before the end of the year.

Daley was sacked last month after losing his fourth series since taking the reins five years ago.

While Blues legend Brad Fittler is favoured to take the role, the door remains ajar for recently dumped duo Maguire and Hasler after the NSWRL decided to retain its policy of having a full-time State of Origin coach.

NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said the board had opted against having an NRL club-affiliated coach working part-time to avoid selection conflicts of interest.

"The overriding consideration is to avoid, for both the coach's benefit and players' benefit, perceptions of conflict of interest, also the reality of conflicts of interest in selecting players,” he said.

Meanwhile Trodden would not rule out sacked Canterbury coach Hasler's appointment to the Blues, despite it appearing unlikely given Bulldogs chairman Ray Dib is on the NSWRL board.

"The board will deal with every candidate on individual merit so it's really premature to speculate about candidates before you know whether any of them even have an interest in putting their hand up,” Trodden said.

Trodden said the board would look to identify coaching candidates over the next two months.

While Fittler has been widely tipped to get the role, Craig Fitzgibbon, Geoff Toovey, Dean Pay and sacked South Sydney coach Maguire remain other options.

"What we want to do is get the best possible person so it will take as long as it takes,” Trodden said.

"I'd be surprised if the appointment wasn't made this year. It will be this side of Christmas, I'm sure. But I wouldn't like to say it'll be next month or the month after.”