NRL 2 years ago

Few more qualified than Walters: Qld

  • Few more qualified than Walters: Qld

    GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: Coach Kevin Walters during a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session on May 29, 2016 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

He may not have been the first choice replacement for Mal Meninga as Queensland State of Origin coach.

But in the end, few were more qualified than new Maroons mentor Kevin Walters.

Walters was a long time assistant to Meninga during Queensland's stunning run of nine series wins in 10 years.

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And he played no less than 20 Origins as a Maroons half through the 1990s.

Yet the Maroons initially offered the coaching vacancy this year to North Queensland's premiership-winning mentor Paul Green.

When the dust settled, Walters took up the reins.

And just as well.

Walters may lay claim to something few can - he was there when Origin was born.

"I remember that game in 1980," Walters said of the legendary clash at the Brisbane venue once dubbed Lang Park.

"I was 13 at the time.

"We couldn't get in because there was too many people.

"So dad found a hole in the fence or so he tells us.

"And we jumped through in the outer and watched.

"When Arthur Beetson ran out that day, well it was like yesterday - the whole stadium erupted.

"To be part of that was really special.

"To be in the position I am in right now makes me very proud."

During his playing days Walters was known as the joker in the pack.

Now Queensland captain Smith believes Walters is their ace up their sleeve.

"Kev has been the prankster for the years he has been involved in our team but he is more serious now," Smith said.

"But that relaxed feeling around the camp has been a positive for the team and certainly Kev brings that relaxed attitude."

Walters joked that taking up the reins over Meninga was like "batting after Bradman".

"But someone has to step up to the plate and that is something I am more than happy to do," he said.

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