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Maroons remember their roots

"It's really important we all remember where we come from."

With those words, Queensland Maroons coach Kevin Walters invites new captain Billy Slater to stand in front of the group before dinner in the team's Game III preparations.

Slater is given an Innisfail Brothers jersey, the same colours he scorched many junior opponents in while growing up in the Far North.

One by one, the players step forward and swap their shirt for their junior jersey.

It's a touching scene that would make so many proud, particularly those who have devoted lengthy periods to grassroots rugby league.

From the Runaway Bay Seagulls on the coast to Black Stars in Mount Isa, this was a special moment for the elite players of our game, as well as those involved in local clubs throughout the state.

With the players now wearing their local colours, it's time for the coaching staff to join in the fun.

Allan Langer dons his Northern Suburbs Tigers jersey, and Walters proudly reaches for his Swifts Bluebirds jumper.

While he currently presides over the state's most prestigious rugby league team, Ipswich-bred Walters has never forgotten his roots.

The two-time Origin series winning coach is a regular at local league grounds where he keeps a close eye on the Intrust Super Cup and other levels.

Walters and brother Andrew even tip their own money into the local game, with their business  featuring on the back of the Bluebirds jersey.

Always eager to think outside the square, Walters hatched the idea for a night of laughs before the team got down to business at training.

It took quite an effort to get hold of the jerseys, with QRL staffer Rachelle Wheeler working around the clock with the support of local club representatives from all over the state.

Not all quite went to plan though, with local officials from Corey Oates's junior club – the Baralaba Panthers – unable to supply a jersey big enough to fit the giant Maroons winger.

Oates wore a Runaway Bay jersey for this photo, but like the rest of the players and the coach, he knows where he really comes from.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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