He won five premierships with the Broncos as a player and then led Queensland to back-to-back State of Origin triumphs, but Kevin Walters says winning a grand final as Brisbane coach would trump everything he did while in charge of the Maroons.
Walters described winning a competition as “the greatest feeling in the world” and it’s something he wants his players to experience on Sunday night when they take on a Panthers side that is preparing for its fourth grand final in as many years.
There are few people who love the Broncos as much as Walters does, and he’s played a big part in this year’s success even though Adam Reynolds, Payne Haas and Reece Walsh tend to get all the credit.
He was one of three men nominated for Dally M Coach of the Year, with Panthers counterpart Ivan Cleary also in the mix, but the pair were ultimately beaten by Warriors rookie Andrew Webster.
It doesn’t diminish what he’s achieved this year, and the man who has already achieved so much as a player and a coach wants to tick off one final milestone with the club he adores.
“I’d much rather be preparing for a grand final than an Origin series,” Walters said.
“No disrespect to State of Origin, but when you win a title as the Panthers have the last couple of years, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.
“I just want our guys to prepare well, which we are this week. I want them to enjoy that experience.
“From a selfish point of view, I want to experience that as well as a coach. Ivan has been fortunate enough the past couple of years to experience that, and I want to know what that feeling is actually like.”
Standing in Brisbane’s way is a team that is looking to become the first side since the Eels of 40 years ago to win three premierships in a row.
Winning has become a routine for the mountain men, but their quest for glory did get off to a shaky start when they were beaten by an experienced Storm side in the 2020 decider.
Cleary said on Thursday that his side had to lose one to win one, but Walters isn’t convinced that his team has to go down a similar path.
That Panthers side lacked big-game experience but this Brisbane team has eight starters who have played Origin, while others have represented their country on the international stage.
It’s why Walters isn’t buying into the comparison even though Adam Reynolds and Kurt Capewell are the only Broncos with grand final experience heading into Sunday’s showdown with the Penrith juggernaut.
“I don’t concur that we’re in the same position as Penrith were four years ago,” Brisbane’s coach said.
“Our team has got 10 current or former State of Origin players, so we’ve got experience.
“I think experience counts – not so much on grand final day – but general experience in big games, and I feel we have that.
“Our captain has played in two grand finals and ‘Capes’ has been involved in grand finals and we’ve got great experience through State of Origin and a couple of international players in our team.
“We might be a young side but we’re also a very mature side when it comes to rugby league experience.”