Walter's link bolsters Jets
KEVIN Walters may be assistant coach to Craig Bellamy at the Melbourne Storm but he still has the interests of the Ipswich Jets at heart.
The Storm were originally slated to trial against St George at the weekend but the Dragons had to cancel to fulfil their World Club Challenge commitments against Wigan in England.
Instead, Melbourne came to Brisbane last Friday for trials against Queensland Cup clubs Ipswich Jets and Easts Tigers at Langlands Park.
The Tigers are a feeder club to the Storm while Ipswich-raised Walters coached the Jets to the 2008 Queensland Cup grand final.
“Once (the St George trial) fell over, obviously the Jets, with me having coached there, it was good to get them involved,” Walters said.
Only Easts emerged entirely happy from the trials, winning their half game against the Storm 10-0, after the Jets lost the first half to the NRL club 34-0.
But for Walters and the rest of the Storm coaching staff, every chance they get to see their team in match conditions carries vital importance.
The Storm find themselves in an unusual situation this season, with a much higher turnover of players than for many seasons.
The reason being the fallout of their salary cap breaches over five years, up to 2010.
Once it was revealed players had been getting paid more than the club could afford under the cap, a shedding of high-profile talent was inevitable and the likes of Greg Inglis, Ryan Hoffman, Brett White and Brett Finch have subsequently departed.
It means there are more spots up for grabs than there has been for many seasons, adding extra significance to trials and the task Walters faces as the club’s backs coach.
“We’re just looking for a good solid start to the season,” Walters said.
“It is probably the longest off-season most of them have had.
“We were looking for a good performance from everyone.
“Trials are a necessity but they’ve taken on more importance this year due to the turnover of players.
“Certain positions need to be decided.
“The players have worked really hard but training is always different to playing.”
The turnover means more players have to be indoctrinated into the Storm way of doing things.
Walters finds himself in a similar boat, having joined the club in the off-season following a two-year stint as head coach of European Super League team Catalans Dragons.
“It’s a good challenge for all the coaches,” Walters said.
“With so many experienced players there is the Storm’s way of doing things.
“With certain plays and things, instead of teaching them to two or three new players, it’s 13.
“It’s a big test and a challenging one.”