Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Cronk and Queensland Maroons team manager Steve Walters in camp ahead of Game 1 at ANZ Stadium.
Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Cronk and Queensland Maroons team manager Steve Walters in camp ahead of Game 1 at ANZ Stadium.

Walters' dynasty keeps Qld moving forward

IPSWICH rugby league legend Steve Walters said Queensland can contain the monster NSW forward pack in their State of Origin opener tomorrow night.

The Blues have made no secret of their plans to attack through the middle after naming a bench stacked with giants. The Queensland team manager is confident the mobile Maroons can do the job.

"There's a confidence there without being cocky," he said. "It will be a tough test with some big boppers on their bench but all the guys have earned their spots for Queensland.

"On average our forwards are smaller but we certainly have enough size to contain them."

With one sleep to go before State of Origin lights up ANZ Stadium, the former Australian hooker isn't concerned by the Maroons poor record in Sydney.

In a decade of dominance for the Maroons, Sydney has been their Achilles heel, with just two wins from six games in the past five years.

"Despite the form we have had in recent years we still have only won two games," Walters said.

"You always have to be concerned when you are playing down there in front of a big NSW audience.

"Obviously we are hoping to do well down there this time around."

Queensland State of Origin players Corey Oates (centre) and Josh McGuire (right) are seen during the Maroons Origin team training session at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast, Thursday, May 26, 2016. Queensland will face the NSW Blues in game one of the State of Origin series in Sydney on Wednesday. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING
Queensland State of Origin players Corey Oates (centre) and Josh McGuire (right) are seen during the Maroons Origin team training session at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast, Thursday, May 26, 2016. Queensland will face the NSW Blues in game one of the State of Origin series in Sydney on Wednesday. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING Dave Hunt

After spending the week watching the Maroons squad train at their Sanctuary Cove camp on the Gold Coast, Walters said the Queensland staff and players were feeling confident.

"Overall it has been a good week," he said.

"Cooper (Cronk)'s injury has been a bit of a distraction but that often happens in Origin and we have replacements ready to go if he isn't able to play on the day.

"Other than that though everyone has had a good attitude and things are going well."

Having worked under former coach Mal Meninga, this year's series will have a different feel for the former Origin great, with brother Kevin making his debut as Queensland coach.

When asked how the former Brisbane Broncos assistant coach was handling the new responsibility, Walters said it was difficult to doubt his younger brother.

"It is a bit hard for me to say because I am a bit biased," he said. "But I would have to say he's going well. I've seen how much work and effort he has put in to get where he is."

Despite a difference in stature, Steve said the coaching styles were similiar between the current and former Queensland coaches.

"I don't think there's much difference in the way Kevie and Mal coach really," he said.

"Mal was a pretty relaxed guy as well but they both know that there are times when you need to be serious.

"I do think Kev is a bit chirpier but he knows there's a time and place for everything. I think he's done that well."

Along with brother Kerrod, the Walters' brothers started their football careers in Ipswich with the Booval Swifts, playing against future Queensland teammate Allan Langer at Norths.

Reunited with his younger brother and "The Little General" in the Queensland camp, Walters said it was a special background the trio shared.

"You get old quick," he said. "Sometimes you look back and realise you've known each other for 40 years. It is nice to have an Ipswich flavour in the Maroons. Hopefully we can see a few more coming through player wise."

With Ben Hunt and Ipswich youngster Anthony Milford improving every year in the Broncos halves, that time might not be far away with the ageing halves combination of Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.



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