Walters takes Maroons back to the future
As he went about ushering in the next wave of Maroons hopefuls new Queensland coach Kevin Walters said the state's rich Origin history will provide a cornerstone of his tenure in the state's top job.
Taking over the mantle from Mal Meninga who oversaw nine series victories in his 10 years in charge, Walters assembled 20 of Queensland's finest young talent who are yet to play Origin for a three-day camp in Brisbane.
The Queensland Academy of Sport Emerging Origin camps have been credited in part for the Maroons' decade of dominance and with a large number of current Queenslanders now into their 30s, allowing the next generation to make a seamless transition could be Walters' greatest assignment.
The likes of Dylan Napa, Ben Hunt and Justin O'Neill could very easily make their Origin debuts in 2016 and Walters believes that surrounding them with former Queensland greats brings a sense of comfort to their preparation.
"The mentoring system that the Queensland Rugby League has in place is fantastic and I'd like to try and get more Former Origin Greats (FOGS) involved because there is going to be a big transition over the next couple of years with our senior players," Walters said.
"Talking to the current group of players, they get a lot of comfort having those sorts of players around which I've continued with the likes of 'Alf' (Allan Langer), 'Gilly' (Trevor Gillmeister) and Gavin Allen so those mentors are there for them."
As the playing group prepares to witness some changes in the coming years Walters has already made some significant shifts in the coaching staff, letting go assistants Michael Hagan and Jason Hetherington along with physiotherapist Scott Thornton and long-serving team doctor Roy Saunders.
Walters made those difficult decisions in the early days of his tenure that began on January 11 and said that he sensed the Maroons players who have been fixtures for the past decade were in need of a slightly different environment.
"I've worked with those staff so it was a tough call for me first couple of weeks in the job but I just felt it was for the benefit of Queensland and the team," said Walters, who played 20 Origins for Queensland between 1989-1999.
"The idea was to refresh the players with some new faces around. They've been great servants, those that were on the staff. Ten years is a long time in any sport and I just felt like the team needed a bit of a refresh, the players in particular.
"We've made those decisions and we've moved on. Hopefully the new people that we're bringing in will be of huge benefit to the players and to Queensland Rugby League."
While his predecessor Meninga took more of a management role to his position as Queensland coach, Walters intends to be at the coalface every step of the way.
In conjunction with Michael Hagan Walters has overseen much of the recent Emerging Origin camps and said his style is to be highly engaged at every level of coaching Queensland.
"He was a bit different but that's Mal's way of doing things," said Walters, who coached Queensland in the inaugural under-20s Origin match in 2012.
"My way, I'd like to be a little bit more hands on. I'm really passionate about the coaching and being hands on about it so that will be my way of thinking about it.
"I still need lots of good staff and support around me but I think that's the best way for me going forward, to do a lot of the stuff myself.
"I've been part of the staff at some great places but now I finally get the opportunity to now do things Kevin Walters' way and that's what I intend to do."