Advice from Queensland’s senior players gave new Maroons coach Kevin Walters the conviction to slap bans on another six young guns despite knowing it could sabotage his maiden State of Origin series.
Walters is believed to have contacted Queensland captain Cameron Smith and playmaker Johnathan Thurston before confirming more 12-month Origin suspensions in the fallout over the disastrous Emerging Maroons camp.
Star Brisbane halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford along with Jarrod Wallace, Canberra’s Edrick Lee, Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa and South Sydney’s Chris Grevsmuhl copped bans for breaking curfew at the weekend Brisbane camp.
It ensured a total of eight rising stars would be unavailable for Walters’ debut Origin series, draining precious depth in a body blow to Queensland’s Origin title defence.
Cronulla’s Valentine Holmes and Melbourne’s Cameron Munster had suffered the same fate when the curfew controversy broke on Monday.
Walters admitted his brutal call would hugely affect his Origin chances.
But he said a candid chat with the likes of proud Queenslanders Smith and Thurston ensured he had no regrets.
“I had a conversation with a couple of the senior players,” Walters said.
“They had been so strong in their leadership over the past 10 years that I felt …they would be honest with me, and me with them.
“They were very supportive of everything the QRL and myself spoke about.
“They are very proud of their history and what they have created at this level.
“They don’t want to see it damaged in any way by others.”
Queensland will now keep their fingers crossed their ageing team does not suffer any injury dramas as they look to extend their run of nine series wins in 10 years.
Eight of their starting 13 in Origin I last year were on the wrong side of 30.
Only veteran centre Justin Hodges has retired since they clinched the 2015 series with a record 52-6 game three romp.
Walters said he was gutted that the young guns had disrespected him and the Queensland jersey by breaking curfew.
“I am disappointed in a few areas, initially with (the disrespect shown to) me – it’s my first year as head coach,” said Walters who takes over from Mal Meninga.
“Also from the perspective of the State of Origin team.”
“That team has been so successful, we all know how much Origin means to everyone now.