Queensland captain Cameron Smith says he can not fault new Maroons State of Origin coach Kevin Walters but admits the process surrounding his appointment had been “a bit of a bungle”.
Smith said he assumed long-time assistant Walters would be offered the Maroons job after Mal Meninga ended his remarkable 10-year stint in 2015.
Instead the QRL opted for North Queensland’s NRL premiership-winning coach Paul Green.
The Cowboys mentor knocked back the job, forcing the QRL to backflip and belatedly offer Walters the role.
“From a players’ point of view we just assumed Kevvie was next in line,” Smith told Triple M Brisbane.
“It was a bit of a bungle but we ended up with Kevvie and all the players are extremely happy.”
Smith had no problem with Walters’ tough stance after eight players were hit with 12-month Origin bans for breaking curfew at an emerging Maroons camp.
Smith conceded young guns at the camp may have been testing the rookie coach – something that would never happen under Meninga.
“Maybe it could have been, new guy on the block and obviously Mal’s a guy that gives you a look with his eyes and you don’t really want to mess with him,” Smith said.
“I’m not too sure what was going through the boys’ minds there but obviously they’ve paid a price.”
It was a tough start for Walters who has big shoes to fill replacing Meninga, now the Kangaroos coach.
Former Maroons boss Meninga inspired a record nine Origin series wins in 10 years.
“Unfortunately those (banned) blokes broke the trust of the new coach Kevvie Walters,” said Smith, who will skipper the World All Stars against an Indigenous team at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
“Those guys were given an opportunity. It’s more of a privilege than anything to be involved in an emerging Origin squad.
“Unfortunately they just couldn’t seem to follow instructions.”