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'I lost my personality': Walters reflects on tough times

Brisbane coach Kevin Walters has admitted his personality changed as the Broncos endured a mid-season slump but said a review during the team's bye week helped him and the club get back on track.

The Broncos have played arguably their best football in the last month as they enjoyed a 37-18 triumph over North Queensland and narrow losses to top-eight sides Penrith, Newcastle and Sydney Roosters, and Walters believes they can end the Warriors' finals hopes on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.

The Broncos great was a popular choice to revive the fortunes of the NRL's biggest club after two disastrous seasons but he revealed the stress of winning just three of Brisbane's opening 15 matches had been beginning to take its toll.

"There were a couple of games there where we weren't performing to a level that I believed we should have and I just lost my personality a bit," Walters said. "I feel it's important regardless of the situation that you maintain who you are and what you believe in.

"It's not about not believing, but it is more about just being myself and I feel like I have got a really strong personality amongst the playing group, and a really positive personality, so I need to maintain those standards.

"There will be some more rocky times ahead for sure and through those periods I need to maintain my personality to keep the club heading in the right direction."

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Walters is well known for his sense of humour but there is a serious side to him when it comes to training and games that players may not have seen before.

Because he is so passionate about the Broncos, Walters took some of the team's defeats hard – particularly heavy losses to the Dragons, Raiders and Tigers, as well as Melbourne, South Sydney, Manly and Parramatta.

"Obviously the energy side is very important in a football team and I know as a coach that I need to bring a lot of energy so that is one of the areas I dropped away bit given the results that we having, but it is all a learning experience," he said.

"I am new in the chair here at the club and certainly there are some players who it is their first year under my tutelage as a coach, so there was going to be some points at which we have to look at what we are doing and how we can do it better.

"That is what we have done and, just looking at myself, I felt like I lost my way a little bit with my personality. I just need to make sure that when those tough times come again, I stay true to the club and true to myself.

"There is a time to enjoy yourself and to relax but once we are on the grass and particularly in games there is a very serious and competitive side to Kevin Walters that needs to come out as well.

"I am a very emotional coach as well, which the players need to be aware of. Over the last six or seven weeks I can't fault the players in their attitude and their commitment to make our club better."

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Walters pinpointed the bye in the first weekend of July as a turning point for the team and said the players had returned from the week off with an attitude that has been seen in their recent performances.

The Broncos also made significant off-field changes, with Ben Ikin joining Brisbane as football and performance director, Simon Scanlan taking over recruitment, Dave Ballard stepping into the head of performance position and renowned trainer Alex Corvo working with the NRL squad.

"We questioned everything that we were doing with all of our support staff and our players," Walters said.

"We changed some staff around, certainly the playing roster's mentality and their commitment to the cause has lifted, I believe, and they have become a tighter group who are playing for each other so that has been helpful.

"Because of the pressures that everyone was under, particularly the players, I think that seven-day period when they had time to sit back and reflect on the season and what lied ahead I guess that sparked them somewhat.

"They have got a lot of pride too and they wanted to fix some of the wrongs that was happening in the place.

"Full credit to those blokes who came back after that break with a really good attitude and a willingness to get better across our game and across the 80 minutes, which we have seen from them.

"I have seen a major improvement across the group in everything that we are doing, particularly our defence. It is a lot better now than it was six, seven or eight weeks ago.

"We understand the Warriors are still in contention for the finals but ... the motivation for us is to get out there and play well in front of our fans, and give them something to cheer for the rest of the season. We want to finish with three wins."  

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