Kevin Walters says he is immensely proud of the fight in his side to bounce back from a horror Perth loss in Origin II and has rejected suggestions he will leave the final year of his contract to take up a club role.
The Maroons fought back from 20-12 down inside the final 20 minutes to level up with two tries before a stunning long-range Blues try inside the final 30 seconds broke Queensland hearts 26-20 but Walters praised the efforts of his side, particularly impressive debutant Ethan Lowe.
"Just to fight back in the game I thought was really brave and really proud from our guys," Walters said.
"We knew that fight was in them and they had to fight hard. To be beaten the way we did in the last 30 seconds was disappointing but I'm just really proud to be a Queenslander to be honest, that's my thoughts.
Walters: I'll be back next year
"I'm proud of our team that represents our state. We did well in game one, game two we fell away to an area we haven't been for a while but for them to pick themselves back up from Perth and play the way they did tonight just makes me really proud to be their coach."
Rabbitohs back-rower Lowe was injected into the 17 late after Matt Gillett withdrew with a groin complaint and was immediately handed chief goal-kicking duties. He nailed four from four and had a mammoth game in attack and defence, making a game-high 52 tackles, while also adding a crucial chargedown to set up the levelling try.
Chambers praises Cherry-Evans' leadership
"He was [outstanding]; we didn’t have a bad player," Walters added.
"All our guys put their hand up through the full 80 minutes. All the guys on debut did a really good job."
And after initially sticking to his series-long, coach whisperer-inspired strategy of simply calling the Blues "the other state", Walters eventually relented and congratulated both NSW and Wally Lewis Medal winner James Tedesco by name.
"Hats off to the other side, they got the win and the series," Walters said early in his media conference before appearing to have a change of heart.
"Hats off to New South Wales, they won the game tonight and won the series so we have to accept that as well and be humble in defeat."
Walters said he was excited to continue the regeneration of the Queensland set-up after the departure of a generation of true greats of the game and totally rejected suggestions he was set to take up a coaching role with the Titans.
"I'll be back next year," he said.
"We made some good progress this year, if you look back the last couple of years with the changing of the guard I thought we made some small steps last year but some even bigger ones this year with the group that we've brought through and I want to be part of that next year with the Maroons moving forward.
"When I first got the job four years ago I knew there was going to be a changing of the guard.
"It was something I was actually really excited about. I had a lot to do with some of these boys coming through now in under age teams and the like … We're heading in the right direction, I know we are, I have a lot of faith in myself and all of our staff and in particular the players we're bringing through."
Queensland skipper Daly Cherry-Evans said the decision on whether Walters would remain coach was "above my station".
"But I've thoroughly enjoyed being coached by Kevvie," he said.
"This series has been a really enjoyable one. The result is going to hurt for a long time – I'll remember this for a long time.
"But I'd love to get an opportunity to win a series with Kevvie as my coach."
Prop Josh Papalii, who played his 15th Origin for the Maroons on Wednesday night, also wanted Walters to continue as head coach.
"Or course I want him to stay. It wasn't Kevvie's fault tonight, it was the players. We've just got to turn up next year with an even better attitude.
"We had the opportunity to ice it in Perth and we let ourselves down. We'd play well tonight but didn't get the result – that's footy."
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Stand-in fullback Cameron Munster said he would hate to see Walters leave for whatever reason.
"Kevvie has done so much for this Queensland state. I really respect him as a person, and also how good he was as a player," he said.
"Whatever he decides to do… I love him as the coach of Queensland but I'm sure he dreams of being a NRL coach.
"So whatever he decides to do it's his decision and I'll back him 100 per cent. If he decides to stay on with Queensland there's a lot of confidence in this group that we can bounce back together."