Walters: Broncos role will make me a better coach
Kevin Walters wants to be a better coach and he insists his return to the Brisbane Broncos in an assistant role will help take his own skills to another level.
Walters, also the Maroons coach, is hopeful his dual roles will turn out to be mutually beneficial for Brisbane and Queensland as season 2018 unfolds.
The adage that you can only get better at something by doing it certainly applies to coaching and it is why Walters knew he had to return to the day-to-day work only an NRL club could provide.
"It is going to help me develop as a better coach which I hope will help the Broncos and Queensland," Walters said of his return to Red Hill as an assistant coach.
"As the Maroons coach I had been out of the week-to-week coaching for two years.
"The NRL has the best players, the best coaches and the best staff so I feel for me to get better it was important to get back in that environment where you are still learning and developing yourself and other players.
"I am really excited about being back at the Broncos. I love coaching and the only way for me to get better is to coach more than three games a year.
"It is a place I spent a lot of my playing days and my post-playing days as well so I am really thankful to the Queensland Rugby League and Broncos for making this happen. We hope it is going to be a win-win."
Walters was the assistant coach at the Broncos in 2015 and then concentrated solely on the Maroons in 2016 and 2017. Now he is back with Wayne Bennett's blessing. Walters put to bed suggestions he and Bennett had fallen out in the previous two years.
"That is not the case," he said.
"Wayne wanted me to concentrate solely on coaching Queensland and thought that having two jobs would create some problems.
"While I didn't agree with it, I understood and went away and did it.
"Now after two years I have a lot more experience around Origin and what is required at that level. The door was always open at the Broncos to come back and I am enjoying the challenge this role does and will provide."
Walters won five premierships as player at Brisbane under Bennett's coaching, part of their enduring union.
"It goes back to 1984 when Wayne first coached me in the Queensland under-18 team, so it has gone past 30 years which is a bit scary," Walters said.
"Then I went to Canberra and the Broncos under his tutelage. There has been plenty of player/coach relationship and now assistant coach/coach relationship, which is great."
Walters has embraced his role leading the team's attacking structures at pre-season training.
He exhorts the players to ensure their skills are top class while under fatigue. It is not rocket science, but any lapses are admonished because Walters knows what is at stake.
"The key to any element of coaching is to do things well, but also to do them well when you are under pressure and when you are tired and fatigued," he said.
"That is what makes the good players great and can be the difference in games, to be able to execute under pressure in the 79th minute when the game is on the line."
The Broncos were on the receiving end of that in the 2015 grand final when Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan and Kyle Feldt did exactly that.
It was no surprise Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford had outstanding years in 2015 when Walters was on board.
Hunt often spoke of Walters's influence and how it improved his passing and game sense in particular. Walters is now keen to work closely with Milford and Kodi Nikorima.
"They have a lot to learn, but what excites me is their talent," Walters said.
"They have the skills to get where they need to go and where the team needs them to go. It is just a matter of those two applying themselves with the attention to detail stuff that Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and more recently Michael Morgan have been displaying.
"They need to display those traits in their own games. Anthony has played over 100 first-grade games now and once you get past 100 you need to knuckle down, particularly in the position he plays.
"I'm sure he is up to the challenge and it is going to be a big season for Anthony, and Kodi, to take control of this Broncos team and the way they play."