The National, Tuesday December 29th, 2015
BRISBANE: Queensland Rugby League yesterday announced Kevin Walters’ elevation to the head coaching role of the champion Maroons State of Origin side.
Formerly the assistant to the most successful Origin coach in the series’ 36-year history, Mal Meninga, Walters insists he has no hard feelings after Paul Green was initially approached for the role. Long groomed to replace Meninga, who took Queensland to nine series wins over NSW, Walters finally had his appointment confirmed on a three-year deal to the end of 2018.
But it only came after the QRL sounded out North Queensland coach Paul Green for the job, only to be knocked back as Green opted to focus on the Cowboys’ NRL title defence in 2016.
Walters said he felt honoured and privileged to get the head coaching role he had been seeking at NRL club or Origin level for the last 10 years.
He wasn’t deterred after Queensland Rugby League first offered the job to Green, saying he made the subsequent phone call to chairman Peter Betros that paved the way for his appointment.
Nor did he hold any resentment at the initial snub.
“No not at all,” said Walters. “It was a process the QRL went through.
“What is important is that the QRL got it right it in the end. They got the right man for the job, I have no doubt about that.
“There were just a few twists and roundabouts but we got there in the end.
“I am thrilled they have got enough faith and confidence in me to do the job.”
A veteran of 20 Origin appearances as a player, Walters was a longtime assistant to Meninga with the Maroons and has also been working as assistant to Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett in the NRL, a post he will relinquish.
He has very big shoes to fill following Meninga’s switch to the Australian team job after a decade-long reign saw the Queensland squad under him regarded as the greatest ever.
Walters said he would not make many changes to the structure and team which brought so much success.
And he was not concerned by the ageing of key Maroons players, with captain Cameron Smith and playmakers Jonathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk all on the wrong side of 30.
“Since I was 12 years old, I was here in Suncorp Stadium for the very first Origin game way back in 1980. I fulfilled my dreams as a player and now I am fortunate enough to fulfil my dream as a coach.” – AAP
Club games: 287 (Canberra 1987-1989) (Brisbane (1990-2001)
Club tries: 72
NRL points: 288
Premierships: 6 (1989, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000)
State of Origin games: 20 (1989-1994, 1996, 1998-1999)
State of Origin tries: 3
- Toowoomba Clydesdales head coach (2001-2003)
- Queensland State of Origin assistant coach (2006-2008, 2014-2015)
- Brisbane Broncos assistant coach (2003-2005, 2015)
- Ipswich Jets head coach(2007-2008)
- Catalans Dragons head coach (2009-2010)
- Melbourne Storm assistant coach (2011-2013)
- Newcastle Knights assistant coach (2014)