Thursday Training
Thursday Training

Walters breaks 20-year Origin camp tradition

MAROONS coach Kevin Walters has shaken up Queensland's State of Origin preparations, breaking a two-decade tradition as he looks to snap a two-year losing streak.

Walters will host a two-day bonding camp in Brisbane this weekend for 33 current and emerging Queensland players.

The Maroons have held Emerging Origin camps since 2001, where the NRL's most promising Queensland-eligible talent converge for a weekend to learn about the state setup.

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But for the first time, Walters will combine this year's emerging group with 23 players that have already represented Queensland at Origin level.

Walters' shake-up has come on the back of losing the past two Origin series to NSW.

Entering his fifth season in charge of the Maroons, Walters said he wanted the new and experienced groups to mingle together.

"There's a lot of information around spending time together as a group and improving performance," he said.

"That was the idea more than anything else. They'll get 24 hours together which wouldn't normally happen. I'm really pleased about that.

"We don't usually see them until May, that's the first time they come together. I felt over the last couple of years we've introduced a lot of guys to Origin, a lot of young guys.

"The idea of this camp will be to get those younger players spending some time with senior ones as well as bringing in a couple of guys around the edges who haven't played before."

Kevin Walters has decided to merge the current Maroons camp with some of the emerging Maroons players. Picture: Adam Head
Kevin Walters has decided to merge the current Maroons camp with some of the emerging Maroons players. Picture: Adam Head

Walters has brought some new faces into the Queensland fold like Canberra forward Corey Horsburgh and Cronulla speedster Ronaldo Mulitalo.

Regular NRL campaigners AJ Brimson, Phillip Sami, Kurt Capewell, Kyle Feldt, Reed Mahoney, Thomas Flegler, Jake Friend and Jaydn Su'A have also yet to taste Origin football.

They will mingle with experienced campaigners like Maroons skipper Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh McGuire, Cameron Munster and Michael Morgan while Cowboys signing Valentine Holmes will also return to the fold after his one-year stint in the NFL.

Cronulla’s Ronaldo Mulitalo will join established Maroons stars for this year’s camp. Picture: Brett Costello
Cronulla’s Ronaldo Mulitalo will join established Maroons stars for this year’s camp. Picture: Brett Costello

The Maroons have undergone a changing of the guard over the past two years following the representative retirements of Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater among others.

The squad will not train over the weekend, instead gathering for meetings with Walters and his staff as well as bonding activities.

"There are four or five players I haven't had much to do with," Walters said.

"We'll get them around the senior players and do a bit of team building.

"There's been some really good signs in the last couple of years with the new group we have coming through.

"We've got bucket loads of talent coming through the ranks and already established.

"We're looking at building on some work we did last year."

The Maroons won Game One last year before losing the next two matches of the series, including a thrilling decider in Sydney.

Walters said his squad had the potential to win the shield back this year and prevent NSW claiming three straight series victories.

"In games one and three I was particularly proud of the guts and determination they showed," he said.

"It's about being a more consistent footy team across the three games. When we do that everything will be ok.

"This is a new season and a new series. But history can show us they've got the skills and what's required to win an Origin series.

"It's a matter of applying it for every game."

QUEENSLAND SQUAD

Jai Arrow, AJ Brimson, Daly Cherry-Evans, Kurt Capewell, Kyle Feldt, David Fifita, Thomas Flegler, Jake Friend, Dane Gagai, Tim Glasby, Coen Hess, Valentine Holmes, Corey Horsburgh, Ben Hunt, Felise Kaufusi, Ethan Lowe, Reed Mahoney, Moses Mbye, Josh McGuire, Anthony Milford, Michael Morgan, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Cameron Munster, Dylan Napa, Corey Norman, Corey Oates, Joe Ofahengaue, Josh Papalii, Kalyn Ponga, Phillip Sami, Jaydn Su'A, Jarrod Wallace, Christian Welch.



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