Wal­ters to stay on new con­tract

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - PE­TER BADEL

KEVIN Wal­ters is ex­tend­ing his ten­ure with the Ma­roons with the Queens­land coach to sign a con­tract up­grade in his blue­print to build an­other Mal Meninga- style Ori­gin dy­nasty.

The Bulletin can re­veal Wal­ters is in talks with the Queens­land Rugby League on a two- year ex­ten­sion that will see the Bron­cos leg­end re­main at the helm un­til the end of 2020.

Spec­u­la­tion was rife last month that Wal­ters’ po­si­tion was un­der threat and that his cur­rent deal, which ex­pires next year, could be torn up to make way for Wayne Ben­nett in 2018.

But QRL bosses were so pleased with the Ma­roons’ epic fight­back to over­come a 1- 0 deficit and win this year’s se­ries they have be­gun ne­go­ti­a­tions to re­ward Wal­ters with an­other term.

Wal­ters is on track to serve Queens­land for five con­sec­u­tive cam­paigns, a pe­riod of con­tin­u­ous ser­vice bet­tered only by Meninga, who steered the Ma­roons to nine se­ries wins in 10 years.

Wal­ters has had a dream start to his Ori­gin coach­ing ca­reer, win­ning back- to- back cam­paigns as Meninga’s suc­ces­sor, and con­firmed last night he wants to ink an­other deal.

“I plan to con­tinue on, cer­tainly,” Wal­ters said. “I’d like to stay in­volved as a head coach for a longer term, ac­tu­ally.

“I am con­tracted for next year but I am look­ing to ex­tend that deal and I am in talks with the QRL at the mo­ment.

“We’re talk­ing about the term right now but I’d be happy to do a cou­ple more years.

“We’ll see what the QRL are happy with but I’ve got no plans to walk away any time soon.”

Queens­land’s record- break­ing Ori­gin dy­nasty ap­peared on the brink of col­lapse af­ter Game One this year when Wal­ters was left to di­gest the pain of a 28- 4 ham­mer­ing at Sun­corp Sta­dium.

But Wal­ters held his nerve and presided over a raft of key changes, in­clud­ing the blood­ing of eight new faces.

The likes of Dy­lan Napa, Cameron Mun­ster, Valen­tine Holmes, Tim Glasby and Jar­rod Wal­lace rep­re­sented the fresh blood that helped Wal­ters hit back to de­liver an 11th se­ries win in 12 years.

With Johnathan Thurston’s Ori­gin ca­reer of­fi­cially over and key duo Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith weigh­ing up their fu­tures, Wal­ters says it is vi­tal he stays on to men­tor Queens­land’s younger core.

“I want to pro­vide sta­bil­ity,” he said. “We have some is­sues over the next cou­ple of years. Johnathan Thurston is mov­ing on and I’m not sure what Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk are do­ing. We have some bat­tles ahead and I want to see us through that pe­riod.

“There were some sleep­less nights, that’s for sure – but I’m def­i­nitely keen to go on.”

Pic­ture: FIONA HARD­ING

CHAL­LENGE: Iggy Park stu­dents Ai­den Whyte 17 and Mcken­zie Baker 17 with Cowboys leg­end Aaron Payne.

Ma­roons coach Kevin Wal­ters.

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