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Thaiday endorses Walters as next Broncos coach

The Brisbane Broncos could have a new coach in 18 months and, if they do, veteran forward Sam Thaiday is adamant it should be club legend Kevin Walters.

It is not yet known whether 68-year-old mentor Wayne Bennett intends to coach into his 70s and beyond the expiry of his deal at the end of the 2019 Telstra Premiership.

When asked recently about his plans, Bennett said he was yet to make up his mind.

Off-contract North Queensland Cowboys coach Paul Green, who is expected to re-sign with the club, has been mentioned as an option but Thaiday said the man for the job was already on board as Bennett's assistant.

"I’d love to see Kevvie coach here because culturally he understands what the Broncos are about and he knows the standards and structures that we have in place here," Thaiday told

"Kevvie lived and breathed that culture for the years he played here and he will continue those standards if Wayne decides to leave.

"I think that is what lacked when Wayne was away when we had Ivan [Henjak] and Hook [Anthony Griffin] here.

Kevin Walters, in his Broncos playing days, tries to get around Sharks lock Tawera Nikau.
Kevin Walters, in his Broncos playing days, tries to get around Sharks lock Tawera Nikau. ©NRL Photos

"They were coaches that weren’t necessarily Broncos and didn’t really uphold what the club stood for. Wayne had a blueprint for them that they needed to follow when he left."

Thaiday said he understood why Griffin and Henjak wanted to stamp their authority but said some "bad habits" crept in.

"Even little dress standards, like Wayne drives now, slipped," Thaiday said. "Things like making sure you take your hat off in the dining hall and making sure you have shoes on when you go to a restaurant.

"They are commonsense things and maybe they seem like small rules, but if you are not willing to follow small rules why would you be bothering with doing every rep in the gym or putting your weights away."

As a coach, Thaiday said Walters was a master at breaking down weaknesses in the opposition, as he was as a player.

"Kevvie knows our game attacking wise and has that vision for the game," Thaiday said.

"He has the ability to watch a team play and analyse where they are going to attack, and then come up with a great plan for how are going to attack.

"Knowing and understanding the game is what you want in a coach. Yeah, you want a coach that is passionate and inspirational, but you also want a coach that has that visual understanding of rugby league."

Broncos veteran Sam Thaiday.
Broncos veteran Sam Thaiday. ©NRL Photos

Asides from being an astute technical coach Thaiday said Walters was defined by passion and emotion.

He refuted suggestions the Queensland Maroons coach would struggle with the high-level of pressure week-to-week in the NRL.

"I think emotion shows passion and a love for a team and the game," Thaiday said.

"As rugby league players we are seen as these big, strong tough men but we are not allowed to show emotion.

"That is our biggest problem and why we see so many players suffer from depression, because they are not willing to talk about feelings or show emotions.

Kevvie knows our game attacking wise and has that vision for the game.

Sam Thaiday

"Kevvie is emotional. That is the way he coaches. He is invested 100% in this team and he loves the game. It just shows it is his life, and the players respond to that."

Walters will be 52 at the end of 2019 and will have spent the best part of two decades coaching. He's been head coach at Catalan Dragons, Ipswich Jets and the Toowoomba Clydesdales and assistant at the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane under the two leading mentors in the game.

"It is Kevvie's time," Thaiday said.

"He has done his apprenticeship, and under some good coaches as well. He’s had the opportunity to coach that Queensland team and been a success. He will do the job at the Broncos as well."

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