Walters to stay on new contract
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.”
CHALLENGE: Iggy Park students Aiden Whyte 17 and Mckenzie Baker 17 with Cowboys legend Aaron Payne.