Maroons reveal bold succession plan if Kevvie departs
Wayne Bennett could be just days away from getting the green light to go head-to-head with Brad Fittler in this year's State of Origin series.
With the hunt for the Brisbane Broncos new coach now moving to the interview stage, Queensland chairman Bruce Hatcher has come out strongly in support of Kevvie Walters to get the job ahead of Paul Green.
Hatcher went as far as to say it would be a "catastrophe" if Walters missed out again.
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But if that ultimately means Walters can't coach Queensland in this year's Origin series, Hatcher did not hesitate about who should take over.
"I would be putting to our board that Wayne Bennett should be our coach I would suggest," Hatcher said.
"And bearing in mind, it is 40 years of Origin, I couldn't think of anyone better to herald a Queensland Maroons victory in our 40th year."
Hatcher was adamant his preference is still for Walters to stay on and complete his Origin commitments for this year.
But given the desperate state the Broncos are in, it might not be possible to put Brisbane's pre-season preparations on hold until the end of November.
"The worry would be clearly that the parlous state of the Broncos' position and the amount of work they may demand of him," Hatcher said.
"If he felt in any way that was a distraction, we have to look after our own interests.
"I can't see how the Broncos could say, 'oh, yeah, you will be out for another month'. There is a hell of a lot of work to get your next season going in that particular month (November)."
While Bennett has said he does not want to even consider the Origin position until Walters knows his future, South Sydney has already given him permission if it comes up.
Hatcher revealed it was even discussed and agreed on previously when it was thought Walters would get the Broncos' job prior to Anthony Seibold's appointment.
With Queensland losing the past two series, it would be a promotional dream if it was to happen.
Especially given how tough it is going to be for the NRL to sell this year's series amid the COVID 'bubble' restrictions that will stop players interacting with fans in the build-up.
But if there is one person who can make headlines even when he doesn't talk, it's Bennett.
And while it's been 17 years since he last coached Queensland, Hatcher has no doubt the now 70-year-old is still up for the job.
"The point is you have to understand the Queensland mentality," Hatcher said.
"I have known him pretty well all my life.
"And when we had a terrible series loss (in 2000) he stuck his hand up.
"Even though he was under pressure at the Broncos, and he coached a series win and brought it all back.
"It wasn't long after Mal emerged as the supreme commander.
"So really, from our point of view, I think if all other things were equal he would be the right man for the job if Kevvie didn't do it."
But as for Walters' coaching qualifications, Hatcher said it was an insult that people continually talk him down.
"I really find it odd that people are still describing him as the 'rookie coach'," Hatcher said.
"Any coach would love a playing pedigree of six premierships.
"I firmly believe that given what I can only call a catastrophe, he is just a lay down misere to get it because he has all the experience.
"He loves that club. He understands a successful culture.
"He has been there as an assistant coach. And he has been there, not just as a player who just happens to be in the side and plays for a premiership, he was one of the leadership group. He captained a premiership side.
"I don't see how you go past it.
"My reservation is that the people who rejected him at the first instance are still there.
"But I couldn't think why they would go past him."
Originally published as Maroons reveal bold succession plan if Kevvie departs