The race to replace Anthony Seibold is officially over with the Broncos telling Kevin Walters he has secured the coveted position over Paul Green, but it will cost him his Maroons gig.
The Courier Mail reported the Broncos board signed off on Walters’ appointment on Tuesday night on a two-year $1 million contract starting in 2021.
Negotiations will continue about the possibility of adding a third year to the $500,000 a season deal, with Paul Green set to learn he has missed out to Walters.
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The Broncos are set to formally announce Walters as their coach on Wednesday.
Walters will come on board in time for the 2021 pre-season and will form a coaching dream team with prospective director of coach Craig Bellamy from 2022.
The 52-year-old Walters has finally landed his dream job in his first NRL head coaching appointment after playing 241 games for the Broncos and winning five premierships as a player including their first in 1992.
However Walters’ appointment at Red Hill will cost him his Queensland Origin job with two years still to run on his contract with the QRL.
The Broncos want Walters to be fully committed to the club’s rebuild while the QRL have in recent times preferred a standalone Maroons coach.
NRL.com reports that QRL chair Bruce Hatcher has spoken to Broncos chair Karl Morris and they have agreed that given the timing, Walters can still have input in the upcoming series.
“We expect and know that Kevin will be involved in the upcoming series in some shape or form. I have rung Karl Morris this morning and said that we expect they would be flexible,” Hatcher told NRL.com on Tuesday.
“That is given that Kevin has been our coach the whole year, that it is very late in the piece and there is a lot of work to be done with the train-on squad which will be based in Queensland – and Kevin is really the only one that can do it.
“So we expect to have him look after that aspect of it which will take us up to the end of October when they will go into a camp.
Hatcher also confirmed a decision on Walters’ replacement will be made this week.
“This week we expect to know who the new coach for 2020 will be, and we expect him to be supported by all the intellectual property and knowledge that Kevin has at his disposal.”
Master coach Wayne Bennett and Paul Green have been linked to the Queensland post.
However Mal Meninga has emerged as a potential smokey for the job after he coached Queensland to 20 wins from 30 games from 2006 to 2015, including eight series wins in a row.
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But his role as Kangaroos coach could be seen as a conflict of interest, especially by the NSW Blues.
But the fact there is no international rugby league in the pandemic affected 2020 season could work in Meninga’s favour, particularly because the candiadate will need to take the position at short notice.
Hatcher said the race will likely be between Bennett and Meninga given how close the series is and that Green hasn't coached an Origin team before.
“It is a three-man battle between Paul Green, Mal Meninga and Wayne Bennett and given the peculiar circumstances of the appointment and the lateness of the situation it is more than likely to be between two – Meninga and Bennett.
“Paul has never coached Origin and the other two guys both know what Origin is all about.
The Origin series kicks off on November 4, with the squads expected to assemble on October 27 after the NRL Grand Final on October 25.
On Channel 9’s 100% Footy Paul Gallen said Walters has “got to start tomorrow” at Red Hill, while Phil Gould said “they’ll be on holidays” with a tip pre-season training won’t start until January.
Gould warned Walters to be careful what he wished for after landing his dream NRL job, but backed him as the right man given the club’s current woes.
“I would die if this ends in tears for him,” Gould said on 100% Footy.
“He’s always had this ambition to coach because it’s in his blood rugby league.
“He’s been around to a few clubs and a few systems offering up his services as assistant coach but he’s always had this desire to be a head coach that hasn’t come until now. If he could get the perfect job it would be at the Broncos because that’s where his heart is.
“So you’ve got a coach who has always wanted to be a head coach, he’s got great ambition for it, he’s got great history and DNA with the club, he’s going to get a groundswell of support from all the ex players who have been disenchanted and disenfranchised with the club because of decisions they’ve made so you can understand the decision.
If it’s not Kevin Walters who is it and who else can provide that for them? No one.”