Queensland will need to find a new coach for this year’s State of Origin campaign with Kevin Walters’ signing to be Brisbane’s new NRL head coach.
The 52-year-old has signed a two-year contract to take charge at the Broncos and will immediately step down from his Maroons’ role.
A former captain and five-time premiership winner with the Broncos, Walters’ appointment comes almost two years after he missed out on the coach’s role to Anthony Seibold.
“I love the Brisbane Broncos – this club is part of who I am and it feels like I am coming home,” he said.
“I’ve put in a lot of work over the past 15 years to learn and gain the experience that’s required to succeed in this role, so I feel that I’m ready.”
Walters faces a mammoth task to transform Brisbane after the worst season in their 32-year history.
In a far cry from his playing days, the Broncos finished last for the first time in the NRL with just three wins in 2020.
“The success of the Broncos over the years has been built on passion for the jersey, standing by your mates and plain old hard work, and we will strive for nothing less,” Walters said.
“I’m looking forward to getting into the building and starting work on preparations for the 2021 preseason.”
Just who will lead the Maroons in November’s Origin campaign remains unknown with former coaches Mal Meninga and Wayne Bennett among the early frontrunners.
Former North Queensland coach Paul Green, who Walters pipped to the Broncos job, is another candidate for the Maroons position.
Queensland Rugby League managing director Robert Moore said the process to find Walters’ replacement was already underway.
“We hope to be in a position by the end of the week to announce the new coach for the 2020 series,” Moore said.
Walters’ appointment has delighted former teammate and Broncos’ great Chris Johns.
Reports linking the club to Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy are also reasons for optimism in Johns’ eyes after a miserable year at Red Hill.
“Any club in the competition would want the services of Craig Bellamy coming in and overseeing their football department, if that eventuates,” Johns told AAP.
“I think there’s a lot of work to be done there. There’s no way that’s a done deal.
“That’ll just progress and see what can happen and bring him in but also now that Kevin’s putting his team together … you’ll see when he starts making some announcements, you’re gonna have some special people around him that are going to really help provide the environment for this place to really flourish.”