On the eve of one of the most important Origin clashes of his coaching career, Maroons mentor Kevin Walters insisted he hadn't lost the plot and declared the philosophies of mind coach Bradley Charles Stubbs had been a great boost to his team.
There was a touch of the bizarre at Walters' final press conference before the State of Origin series opener against NSW at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
Minutes earlier a bronze statue of Walters' great mate and Maroons legend Allan Langer had been unveiled out the front of the stadium where for 15 years he weaved his magic for Queensland.
It was magic of a different kind that Walters spoke of after it emerged earlier in the week that he had engaged "coach whisperer" Stubbs, who has worked with NRL mentors Trent Robinson and Michael Maguire previously.
Walters has been energetic and positive throughout the entire camp. His captain Daly Cherry-Evans said on Monday that Stubbs' influence had been a boost to the coach. That is no surprise considering one of his tenets is that "belief creates miracles".
Walters answered plenty of questions about Stubbs, and his decision not to mention the NSW Blues during the camp.
One of the questions was whether his energetic persona this week was "an act".
"It is not an act. You know me well enough. Have I got energy? Always," Walters replied.
"I am not this bloke who has sat in the corner and all of a sudden come out and 'wow look at him'. I've been like this all my life. Being around these players gives you energy and you have to have that energy, purpose and drive for us to be successful. We will be successful."
It was put to Walters that people in Sydney are saying he has lost the plot.
"No, I haven't lost the plot. My wife thinks I have sometimes," he chuckled.
Walters pointed to how Stubbs had worked with other leading coaches and said the pair's relationship was a professional one.
He refuted suggestions that the edict to not mention NSW had put undue pressure on the players.
"Not at all," he said.
"The players like focussing on themselves. It has been a little different with our philosophy, just honing in on what we can do, but the response from the players has been right up [high] with their attitude towards it all.
"You can see it throughout the week building with their focus and how we have gone about our training. It has been really bubbly, the camp. There has been a lot of energy about our players, and that is what we want to be tomorrow night… really energetic."
Walters declared last week that his side would win the series opener. He elaborated on Tuesday when asked whether he could guarantee victory.
"The players will guarantee that tomorrow night with their actions and I am very confident that you will see a Queensland team that plays the game of its life. We will play the game of our life and we will need to play the game of our life to get the victory," he said.
The Maroons have been bullish this week and have rejected the underdog tag.
"The underdog tag is probably something that has been passed up from NSW," Walters said.
"Queensland have had such great teams over the years, equal to this one. It is a great team so I am not sure about underdog tag. We know where we sit. I am not even sure what the odds are on the game, but my money is going on Queensland."
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 1 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Walters made the point that the positive influences on the Maroons this week went well beyond his own implementation of Stubbs' ideas, including the guidance of the newly bronzed Langer.
"I am really proud for Alf, a great friend of mine. He has been an integral part of our preparation with what he knows about Origin. It has just been absolutely outstanding," Walters said.
"We've had different influences throughout the week with Johnathan Thurston coming into camp. Billy Slater spent some time with us imparting his knowledge to this young Queensland team. Petero Civoniceva has been around the team. Justin Hodges is now on the coaching staff, all these great Queensland players imparting their knowledge onto this Queensland team. It has been absolutely fantastic."
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