STATE OF ORIGIN
Prince: Walters return helps halves
Former Queensland Maroons half Scott Prince has praised the return of Kevin Walters as an assistant coach at the Broncos, believing that the club legend will help transform star five-eighth Anthony Milford from brilliant individual to a master of game management.
Within the space of an hour on Monday morning Walters was not only confirmed to return to Red Hill to work under Wayne Bennett next season but to continue on as coach of the Queensland Maroons until the end of the 2020 series.
Considered a front-runner to succeed Neil Henry after Henry was axed from the Titans two games from the end of the season, Walters' patience has been rewarded with two jobs that he revels in which could one day lead to the one he covets the most.
Finding a long-term successor to Bennett has been an issue for the Broncos ever since the master coach departed at the end of the 2008 season but after two years away to concentrate on his Origin duties Walters is suddenly the obvious front-runner to one day take over the mantle.
When Walters answered an SOS from Bennett to come out of retirement late in the 2001 season his first game back was partnering Prince in the halves and now Milford and Kodi Nikorima will be the benefactors of Walters' wealth of experience.
"It's important to have any sort of mentor around the halves with the young guys that are in the competition now," Prince told NRL.com.
"Obviously Benji [Marshall] has moved on and from the outside looking in he would have been a bit of a mentor for 'Milf' but Kevvie has been there in the past and we saw what happened when he was there in 2015 helping Milf and Benny Hunt so I think that's a great ploy by the Broncs.
"If I was a young half, I would have loved to have had someone of his calibre working with me as a halves coach or a mentor.
"If you had the opportunity to have a guy of that stature not only in rugby league itself but a club and Origin legend, you'd be pretty blessed.
"To me it's a real positive for Kevvie to come back."
During his injury-plagued three-year stint at the Broncos Prince had the opportunity to be coached by Walters when he took his first steps into his post-playing career with the Broncos' Queensland Cup affiliate, the Toowoomba Clydesdales.
With a well-earned reputation for a sense of humour that can suck the seriousness out of any situation, the question mark hanging over Walters' credentials to be a head coach was always his jovial personality but Prince has seen the work ethic hiding behind the smile.
"He'd come along to training sessions in the pre-season even when he wasn't playing and just run," Prince recalled.
"He was a fit old bugger and I remember thinking that work ethic was probably one of the key attributes in the player that he was. That was one thing that stood out for me as a young player coming from the Cowboys.
"He's a legend of the club. What he's done in the past not only as a player but in the coaching staff is something that everyone respects.
"He brings a fun element to an environment that can be very serious at times but he knows that the players need to relax at certain times and he finds a real balance there.
"With his coaching of the Origin team that also brings that instant respect and gives him a good insight into what the players are doing every week.
"Having him there for Milf and Kodi is a good thing. They can only benefit from it."
This article first appeared on NRL.com