Kevin Walters.
Kevin Walters.

Walters named Storm assistant

IPSWICH rugby league legend and former Jets coach Kevin Walters is relishing his return to the NRL as Melbourne Storm assistant coach.

Walters (pictured) is the specialist backs coach at the Storm following two seasons with Catalans Dragons in the European Super League.

He took up the post with Les Catalans after guiding the Jets to the 2008 Queensland Cup grand final.

“Being back in the NRL is extremely pleasing for me,” Walters said.

“The professionalism of the club is something I respect and appreciate.”

Walters has set no goals for himself or what he wants the team to achieve this season.

However, success is non-negotiable at the Storm, where Bellamy and senior players like Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater demand excellence.

“It is a bit of an unknown,” Walters said.

“They’ve always been a very consistent club. Even last year through the adversity.

“There are some world-class players at the club who want to be successful.”

It makes a contrast to Les Catalans, where he had the job of trying to develop a successful culture that didn’t previously exist.

“It’s been very good for me and I’m loving the experience,” Walters said of the Storm job, which came after he had accepted an offer to coach Easts in the Queensland Cup.

Fortunately, Easts were happy for him to take the Melbourne post.

Walters has had to get use to the increased focus on defence in the NRL, compared to the UK Super League.

“The English game is very much attack-oriented,” he said. “That’s been the case from day dot.

“Certainly in Australia, there is more emphasis on defence.”

The other thing Walters is trying to get his head around is having two referees on the field.

Whatever the Storm achieve in 2011, the club will remain under the shadow of last year’s salary cap rort exposure.

However, Walters has noticed no lingering fallout from the scandal and subsequent punishment, which left the Storm to battle through 2010 with no hope of reaching the semi-finals.

“It’s not my concern,” Walters said. “I haven’t had anything to do with it.

“There are new players and new coaches. It’s a new season.”

While players like Smith, Cronk and Slater need no extra motivation to succeed, Walters believes last year’s hardship could make the players stronger.

“If they’re looking for motivation from that, I doubt it with this group,” Walters said.

“They have probably learnt a lot about themselves in trying conditions.”

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