NSW State of Origin coach Laurie Daley expects good mate Kevin Walters to be green-lit as his Queensland opposite after North Queensland premiership-winner Paul Green elected to concentrate on club duties.
The QRL are expected to go cap in hand back to long-time assistant Walters after initially overlooking him to succeed record-breaking mentor Mal Meninga.
The Maroons were caught off-guard by the timing of Meninga’s exit to take up the Australian coaching role, believing he may have been able to stay on for another year before moving on.
An idea was floated for the Kangaroos to appoint an interim coach which would allow nine-time series winner Meninga to have a Queensland swansong in 2016.
However it’s understood the ARL Commission kyboshed that option and put forward an offer for Meninga to move into the role immediately, which he accepted.
The QRL sounded out Green, after he led the Cowboys to their inaugural title win this year, but was told by the club board he would not be able to split the roles.
The decision to initially overlook Walters stirred up several ex-Maroon greats, who publicly criticised the decision not to automatically offer him the job after being groomed under Meninga.
It remains to be seen if Walters, who was reportedly “shattered” after being snubbed in favour of Green, will be able to put the saga aside however Daley is in little doubt as to who he will be squaring off against during next year’s interstate series.
“I think they probably thought Paul had better credentials after winning the comp and who can argue,” Daley said at the launch of the Blues’ 2016 jersey on Friday.
“Now they’ve missed out on Greenie they’ll want to go back to someone who’s been in the system unless there’s someone else out there putting their hand up.
“I know Kevvie is passionate about Queensland and if he was asked I’m sure he’d go at it again.”
Daley and Walters were Canberra teammates during the late 1980s and toured together with Australia.
He said Walters shared several important traits with Meninga including his passion for the Queensland jumper and knowing how to get the best out of his players.
“Kevvie is a mate of mine and I would have loved to have seen him get the job first up and I was disappointed for him, but hopefully there’s an opportunity for him now,” Daley said.
“He understands Origin and how to get the most out of his players. If they go with Kevvie it will be a good choice.”