Crash: Trait set to decide Walters’ future
Kevin Walters received more support for his new job than any rugby league coach in recent history and now will attempt to pay back voices great and small who wouldn't be silenced until he got his heart's desire.
A rugged season lies ahead for the Broncos but Walters' sympathisers who have traced his 20-year journey to the Broncos head coaching job are still feeling a bit like that owner whose horse somehow snatched the last vacancy in a Melbourne Cup field when all seemed lost. He's in. Phew!
No matter what lies ahead the gnawing "what if?'' pain of never getting a chance would have always been deeper and more long lasting than the pain of failure should things turn pear shaped.
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In some ways Walters' appointment as Broncos coach seemed routine but in another ways it was unorthodox, being of the rare variety where views outside the board room from pulpit pounding players and fans were more influential than the ones inside it making the decision.
Aware of the massive public backlash which followed the appointment and failure of Anthony Seibold when he was appointed ahead of Walters, the Broncos realised they simply could not move ahead as a club until Walters got his chance.
In many ways the club's board feels they cannot lose no matter whether Walters succeeds or fails.
If he wins it's happy days all around.
If he loses the board will at least have the right to say to the outspoken old boys network "OK, you have had your say ... we will choose the next coach, thank you.''
One of the standout qualities of Walters as a coach will be showcased the instant he sits in the coach's box against the Eels this Friday.
People say Wayne Bennett is the ultimate cool head in game time but he is no calmer than Walters for the coach's box and the dressing room is his natural habitat.
Darius Boyd said Walters was in his best three halftime orators and the late Courier-Mail league writer Paul Malone said of the hundreds of players he interviewed after games Walters was the best at describing where a game was won or lost in 50 words.
It's not match play that will test him. It's everything that goes with it.
Being a soft and sensitive character, it is simply not in Walters' nature to sit down players like Craig Bellamy did once with Cameron Munster and say "I cannot be more emphatic about this - start behaving or you are out of here."
When Payne Haas stepped out for a press conference to explain why he abused a policeman, Walters put his hand on his back in a gesture of support.
That's fine but somewhere in the equation the Broncos must find a hard man capable of handing down some salty medicine because cultural standards have fallen.
A month before passing away in hospital, Malone asked a fellow rugby league writer "do the Broncos have a head-kicker on their staff who can pull players into line?"
Excellent question ... I still don't know the answer.
The Broncos' major challenge this season is simply the shallowness of their roster for, on paper, they are actually weaker than they were last season with John Asiata the main recruit and Darius Boyd (retired), David Fifita (Titans), Joe Ofahengaue (Tigers), Kotoni Staggs (injured) and Haas (suspended) all gone temporarily or for good.
The jury is out on what is a pass mark for Walters' first season.
If the 50-1 shots make the finals after landing the wooden spoon last season Walters could expect to gain an extension to his two-year deal.
Anything worse than 10th and it's an open discussion.
No matter what lies ahead Walters is still an inspiring story of a man who never gave up on his dream, who chipped and clawed and hustled and bustled until he was rewarded for staying the longest of long journeys in our snatch and grab world.
He is a good man and we wish him good luck.
Initially, at least, he will need it.
Originally published as Crash: Trait set to decide Walters' future