NRL coach-in-waiting Ben Walker has backed Wayne Bennett in his feud with Craig Bellamy, saying the Brisbane mentor has the game’s best interests at heart unlike an “incredibly boring” Melbourne.
Ex-Broncos Walker and his brother Shane have been a revelation as Queensland Cup club Ipswich’s co-coaches, adopting an off-the-cuff brand that attracted the attention of NRL club Newcastle after Rick Stone’s sacking this year.
Their high possession, unstructured style adopted from the 1980s era has been tipped by experts to revolutionise the game.
It is the antithesis of Bellamy’s maligned wrestling defensive style which has earned the ire of Bennett, sparking a super coach stoush.
Bellamy last week accused Bennett of double standards, claiming the Broncos’ coach was just as guilty of “boring” football when he won the 2010 title with St George Illawarra.
He said Bennett only demanded an entertaining style from everyone, now he could create it with exciting Brisbane halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford.
But Ben Walker backed his former Broncos mentor, saying Bennett knew what was best for the game.
“I think he’s got rugby league’s best interests at heart,” Walker told AAP.
“He’s a big believer in not wrestling, either.
“I find watching Melbourne play incredibly boring.
“They are a successful team in the environment that they play in.
“But I would much rather watch us (Ipswich) running around – we are successful, too.”
The Walker brothers’ unusual approach helped Ipswich score 126 tries in 23 games before booking a Queensland Cup grand final berth against North Queensland feeder club Townsville Blackhawks on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.
Ipswich have not missed a finals series in five seasons under the Walker brothers.
Ipswich hooker Matt Parcell has been a big beneficiary, earning a contract with Manly for next season.
“A lot of people say, when they watch our games, they think it is the most exciting they have seen of the year,” Walker said.
“I have got four kids and they love their footy but they never tell me they enjoy watching teams wrestle each other’s ears off.
“They are talking about how someone did a chip and chase or threw the ball around.
“I hope we get a chance to go to the next level (NRL) and open the game up, really show what rugby league is all about.”
Walker was adamant their style would work in the NRL.
“If people don’t think it is going to work in the NRL, then I don’t really think they understand what rugby league is,” he said.
“League is about keeping the ball off the opposition and scoring down the other end.
“For the last 100 years, people have been throwing the ball around but, the last 20, it’s all been about wrestling each other and block plays.
“To those people (critics), I say ‘why not’?”