Walters ready to go it alone
Rookie Queensland coach Kevin Walters will put his own style on the 2016 Maroons, playing down the importance of appointing a specialist wingman as his assistant.
Speaking to APN from the Sunshine Coast, Walters said he did not place a lot of importance on the role of assistant coach, a position he filled so effectively during former coach Mal Meninga's 9-1 series-winning run over New South Wales.
The new boss has already moved quickly to set up his own internal team by releasing Meninga's tactical advisor and assistant coach Michael Hagan, long time doctor Roy Saunders, physio Scott Thorton and former player Jason Hetherington, who between them boast 50 years of Origin experience.
While many observers believe Hagan played a major role in Queensland's record Origin series streak, Walters said he would upgrade the involvement of both Trevor Gillmeister and former halves partner at the Broncos Allan Langer, whom he jokingly said he had tried to sack unsuccessfully.
"It's not a big priority for me at the moment," Walters admitted.
"This year I want to do a lot of the hands-on coaching myself. There's a certain way I want things to be done and the best way to do that is do it myself.
"I will need some assistance, but Gilly (Gillmeister) will provide a lot of that and Alf (Langer) as well.
"Alf's a prankster and a joker, but he's also got a very good football brain and is widely respected, and is a good judge of players.
"Often it is the character of the players that determine the outcome, not so much their football ability.''
Queensland's most capped forward, Petero Civoniceva, said he had no fears Walters would be up to the challenge of following the history-making Meninga.
"It's a tough ask, but I think it is very exciting for everyone involved," the 33-game Origin veteran said.
"It was inevitable this day would come, and now it's time to regenerate and prepare for the next era."
Walters revealed he had already spoken to Civoniceva about a team role in the future.
"I'd love to get Petero involved down the track. He doesn't do any coaching but he would be a great mentor. We've spoken about it, but that's more a longer-term thing. Everyone is keen to keep the culture that Mal has set up, but there will be a new generation of players coming through in the next three, four or five years and we need to be ready for that."