Thaiday backs Walters' tough stance
The drama created by the Queensland Emerging Origin camp has given Maroons coach Kevin Walters an unexpected opportunity to showcase the same leadership and authority that made him such a respected player.
The incident involving several players breaking curfew resulted in two players – Cronulla's Valentine Holmes and Melbourne's Cameron Munster – being suspended from Queensland Origin selection for 12 months.
A disappointed Walters had no choice but to come down heavily on the two young stars.
The hard-line stance by Walters has received strong support from Queensland forward Sam Thaiday.
Thaiday, a 25-game Origin veteran, believes Walters needed to make a decision that showcased the discipline expected of Queensland State of Origin representatives.
"It gives 'Kevvie' the chance to actually be a coach. He's made a decision now so I think he's happy that he's finally made his first decision as a coach," Thaiday said.
"I think being a new coach you really need to stamp your authority. I think that's what he has done here. Those guys have learned a hard lesson now. They are going to have to work hard over the next 12 months to make sure they impress and hopefully with that, they will put their hand up to be picked for next year.
"We are only getting older in the Origin team so we are going to need some of these young guys to fill a void at some point. I'm sure they will go back to their clubs and play some really good footy. You watch how good those guys will go this year.
"They're young kids. I wasn't there so I can't pass any judgement on the boys. We were all young once – we're all human."
The incident has sparked suggestions that the Maroon dynasty may be about to end.
Queensland has won nine out of the past 10 Origin series – a feat that is not expected to be repeated.
But with aging stars and misbehaving young talent it would be easy to write this champion team off.
Thaiday scoffed at any such suggestion, instead implying that a new coaching style will reinvigorate Queensland and create a transition into an even stronger team.
"The beauty of it is that he [Walters] has been a part of it for the last few years," Thaiday said of the former assistant coach stepping into the top job.
"It definitely will be tough but I think the best bit is that we still have that core group of players who are still going to put their hand up this year to play State of Origin.
"We can help 'Kevvie' out in his role but he has to come in and do his own thing and really make sure he puts his stamp and his standard on the team.
"If you ever watch any of the old footage of 'Kevvie' playing you'll see that he was a fantastic player and a fantastic leader. I think that will only transition into the way he coaches."