Maroons great KEVIN WALTERS is currently in Sydney preparing the Queensland Under 20s team for tomorrow night’s representative match against NSW at Penrith. A passionate Queenslander, Kevvie talks about why this game means so much, the selection of Anthony Milford as captain; and his own Origin coaching ambitions.
How has the week been so far?
“It’s been really good, we’ve got a good bunch of guys and all the staff have worked in well together. The main thing we’ve been trying to do is obviously get some good training done, and then enjoy the fact that we’re all here to represent Queensland on Saturday night.”
What’s the key to winning these one-off representative games?
“Just getting everyone on the one page together. We’ve kept it really simple with the football side of it. All the guys are obviously very passionate about Queensland. What we’ve tried to do is leave all of our club stuff back at our respective clubs and come in and unite for Queensland.
“We haven’t won this game over the last two years. It’s not always about winning but I thought last year our performance was below what we expect for someone wearing a maroon jumper and that’s what it’s about this year. Getting our spirit right and getting our game day right so we can walk off the field, win lose or draw, very proud to be Queenslanders.”
What springs to mind when you look at your team on paper?
“I think we’ve got a lot of maturity amongst the side, there’s a lot of 20 year olds, which I think is important. We’ve got some guys who have played some NRL, guys who have played Intrust Super Cup and guys who have played 20s, so there’s a good mix across the group from that point of view.”
Anthony Milford will captain the team. What will he bring on Saturday night?
“He’s very keen to be the captain, he wants to lead the side well. If we can get him playing well, I’m sure we’ll get plenty following. It’s great that he wants to be here. That’s the thing I like about these boys, they want to play for Queensland, particularly those with some NRL experience. It would have been easy for them to say ‘no, I will take the weekend off’. It’s not about your clubs or yourself, it’s about playing for Queensland, and it’s a good opportunity as well for them to showcase their skills.
NSW have had a few withdrawals, but they will still field a formidable line-up.
“They’re obviously very strong. They always are at underage level and Origin. They’ve got a much bigger player pool to pick from. But that doesn’t worry us. We know they’re going to be strong and hard and tough and all those things. We just think we can put in a good performance and see where that takes us.
You’re obviously enjoying this role with the 20s. Do you still have ambitions to coach the XXXX Maroons at Origin level.
“I have openly stated I would love to coach Queensland one day. Aside from playing Origin, the next best thing would be working on the staff and coaching. That’s certainly one thing I would like to do before I’m in the ground so we’ll see how that all goes!”