Queensland players celebrate their win in Origin I.

Walters starts his coaching career with a win

While his players celebrated yet another Game One win, rookie Maroons mentor Kevin Walters was in the coach's box sweating up a storm as Queensland held on for a 6-4 win at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night.  

Having played 20 Origins for the Maroons, Walters knows a thing or two about what it means to represent the sunshine state, as well as the impact the team's success has on the greater community. 

In his role as coach, Walters has heard it all from criticism about his ageing squad to the difficulties associated with playing in Sydney, but watched on with pride as his champion team etched another win on their rapidly-growing tally. 

 


"I'm just so happy for this group of players," a very proud Maroons coach said after the game. 

"I mean they keep getting thrown challenges every year with Origin and somehow they just keep coming up and manufacturing wins. 

"As a Queensland person – as a Queensland fan – it's hard to explain. It's a privilege to work with these sorts of guys. They’ve been brilliant and they just keep answering questions that are thrown at them."

In what turned out to be a scoreless second stanza, Walters admitted the stress of the situation got to him in the box. 

"Was it golden point or was it extra time?" he quipped after the nervy finish to the match. 

"I think both teams had their chances in the second half to win the game. Fortunately enough these boys, as they normally do – or as they have done for the majority of the past few years – got the job done. It was just enough, but it was enough to get Queensland home. 

"I know that there's a lot of people sitting in Queensland and across Australia now that will wake up tomorrow so very proud of the effort that these boys put in."

Like we've seen so many times before, it was a Queensland try in the minutes leading into half-time that proved the difference.

The so-called 'premiership minutes' have often determined the outcomes of Origin matches and that trend would continue with Dane Gagai's 36th-minute try ultimately getting the Maroons home on the night. 

Asked whether his side made an effort to lift in the latter stages of halves, Queensland captain Cameron Smith said the Maroons' mentality remained the same whether it was the first or last play of the game. 

"I just think we play every minute of the game," the Maroons skipper said. 

"We don’t look for a half-time or a full-time or any sort of period of the game where we go into a lull. We play every moment which you need to do in this level of footy. 

"We saw a couple of opportunities on the last tackle there throughout the entire first half. We threw a couple of things at them early, and 'Coops' (Cooper Cronk), 'JT' (Johnathan Thurston) and that right edge came up with a special play there just before half-time."

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