An emotional Kevin Walters has paid homage to the opportunity to be Queensland's head coach for the last four series as he finished up at the helm of his beloved Maroons.
Speaking at a dinner with Queensland Rugby League's valued partners to celebrate 40 years of State of Origin, the proud Queenslander said he was grateful to be part of the Maroons after witnessing Arthur Beetson's historic moment in 1980.
"I’m very grateful for the opportunity to [coach Queensland]," FOG #63 said.
"I would never in my wildest dreams have thought that it would happen, but of course when set yourself some goals and some ideals on where you want to go, anything can be achieved.
"From that moment with Arthur at Lang Park, I always wanted to play for Queensland, and then when I finished playing and started coaching, obviously the Queensland job was something that I always wanted.
"I really feel the last four years coaching the Queensland side really enlightened me as a coach and the responsibility working with our elite players has been such a tremendous experience for me from when I was first appointed way back at the end of 2015."
Formally finishing his responsibilities with the QRL this week before taking up the top job at the Brisbane Broncos, the impassioned coach said he would always hold Queensland in high esteem.
"Be very proud of our rugby league team, and be very proud of not only our rugby league team, but also everyone in our state," Walters said.
"We are a great state.
'I'll always be part of the Queensland family'
"I’m a very passionate Queenslander as most people would know me and not just on rugby league, but in all sports.
"Whether it be cricket, volleyball, netball, swimming; men, women... it doesn’t matter.
"I just love everything about Queensland.
"When I had to make the call [to announce my departure] to a lot of the players, it was quite a sad moment and there were a few tears shed, but I can totally understand where everyone is coming from in the position I’m in.
"I’m very grateful to be moving onto the Broncos, but a big part of me and will always be me, ever since I was a 13-year-old kid, is about Queensland."
To honour the 11th coach of Queensland who began his reign with the 2016 and 2017 series' wins, QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher presented Walters with a momento featuring every player who wore maroon during the former five-eighth's time in charge.
Upon accepting the gift, Walters thanked Hatcher, QRL managing director Rob Moore and the QRL Board for his time with the Queensland Rugby League.
"Thank you to everyone involved in anything that has had to do with me over the last five years with the Queensland Rugby League team," the outgoing coach said.
"I’m not going too far away… I’m just around the corner at the Broncos.
"I’ll always be in your corner as long as you’re in mine."