Chris and Shane Walker have declared their intentions to shake up the NRL after guiding Ipswich to the National Championship with a 26-12 win over Newcastle on Sunday at ANZ Stadium.
The Walker brothers proved why they are considered top-tier coaches in the making as the Knights had no answer to the Queensland Cup champions’ unorthodox playing style.
In an era when the game is criticised for being sanitised and predictable, the Walkers have thrown the cat among the pigeons with their game plan which goes back to the 1970s and 80s.
With their penchant for short kickoffs, enterprising play, quick interchange of passing and cross-field running, the Knights did not know what to make of them.
The Walkers exacted a measure of revenge after being overlooked last month for the Newcastle head coaching job.
While clubs might be reticent to take a chance on the pair, considering their playing style is so different to anything being proffered by other clubs, Shane declared they are ready to step up.
“We train twice a week for an hour – you’ve seen what we produced today,” Shane said.
“Could you imagine what we could do with a squad of professionals?”
The game reached a boiling point late in the second half when Scottish international Billy McConnachie punched Knights fullback Jake Mamo, knocking him down.
While Mamo was forced to leave the field with the aid of two trainers, McConnachie was not sin-binned. Instead, the whole incident was put on report by referee Matt Noyen.
Walker said Mamo had punched Jets Matt Parcell and Landon Hayes in the lead-up and McConnachie had barely connected.
Knights captain Clint Newton said he had not seen the incident and was happy for the match review committee to sort it out.
Manly-bound hooker Parcell opened the scoring after darting out of dummy half in the third minute.
Walker described his No.9 as a NRL star in the making and predicted he would make a big impact next year at the Sea Eagles.
“You’ve seen what (North Queensland hooker Jake) Granville has done this year,” Walker said.
“Jake Granville is a fantastic player. But last year in the Queensland Cup, Matt Parcell was the best hooker in the comp (ahead of Granville who played with Wynnum-Manly).”
Marmin Barba, the younger brother of Cronulla utility Ben, scored the try of the match when he steamed onto a Rod Griffin offload and ran 90 metres to make it 20-12 on halftime.
A Jaelen Feeney try gave the Knights a sniff before veteran Griffin killed off the game 10 minutes from time.