‘We will win’: Walters fires first Origin shot at NSW
THE State of Origin mind games have begun in February with Queensland coach Kevin Walters lobbing the first grenade at NSW rival Brad Fittler by declaring the Maroons will scupper any hope of a Blues dynasty.
The Origin showpiece will explore a new frontier this year when Adelaide Oval hosts the series opener on June 3 and Walters used a promotion on South Australian soil today to fire the first salvo at Fittler's Blues.
Fittler is emboldened after two consecutive series wins, but it was Walters who oozed confidence, insisting the Maroons will avert three years of Origin pain by bringing the shield back to Queensland in 2020 - starting with victory in Game One at Adelaide.
"It's very clear in my head how we are going to go about winning this series. We will win," said Walters, who won his first two campaigns in 2016-17 before Fittler's appointment inspired a NSW one-two counterpunch in 2018-19.
"I have got the belief this Queensland team will win the series.
"It is going to happen.
"Game One here in Adelaide is very important for us, we need to win it and I believe we will."
The Walters family shares a link with the hallowed Adelaide Oval.
Walters' twin brother, Kerrod, played two seasons for the Adelaide Rams and finished with a record 41 appearances before the club was shut down in 1998 as a victim of the bloody Super League War.
Now Walters is drawing fresh battle lines in Adelaide, determined to atone for Queensland's crushing, last-minute 26-20 series loss to NSW in last year's Origin decider at ANZ Stadium.
"My brother Kerrod played for the Adelaide Rams and our players are excited about playing at Adelaide Oval," Walters said.
"We will travel to any Origin game wherever it is.
"There is great talent coming through the Queensland Maroons and I will do whatever it takes to bring the trophy back to Queensland this year."
Comforted by a flawless coaching record at Origin level, Fittler refused to trade verbal barbs, only promising rugby league would thrive in a city dominated by the rival AFL code.
"This game is the sort of event that will take rugby league to the next level in South Australia," Fittler said.
"Adelaide Oval is a great ground and it will be great to see rugby league back in this region.
"My job and Kevvie's job is to get the two teams well prepared. State of Origin has been the most watched show in Australia over the last 10 or 20 years and there is a reason for that.
"I have no doubt the people of Adelaide will enjoy the experience.
"AFL players and clubs may be confused as to why we (rugby league people) are so involved in State of Origin, but that's the way it is.
"It's the hardest we go."