Walters boys roll with the punches
TWINS Kevin and Kerrod and brother Steve Walters have been through some great times on the football field and more recently some tough times off it.
They are rugby league's most successful brothers, growing up together in Ipswich and going on to play for their state and country.
All up, they played 813 NRL games. They won a combined 11 premierships and represented Queensland at Origin level 41 times and Australia 33 times through the 1980 and '90s.
But it hasn't been all high fives and celebrations for the Walters boys.
Kevin, now coach of Queensland, lost his wife and childhood sweetheart Kim to breast cancer when she was 29. It was a story which touched everyone; not just rugby league fans.
Pregnant with their third child Jet, Kim was diagnosed in 1996. She refused to undergo potentially life-saving chemotherapy until Jet was born seven months into her pregnancy and she spent the last 15 months of her life with her family.
The Walters boys, who have two other brothers, Andrew and Brett, lost their dad, Kevin Snr, in 2010.
Three years later their mum, Sandra, passed away.
Both were hugely popular figures in the Ipswich district. In the same year as he farewelled his mum, Kerrod, who is currently having a crack at politics after being endorsed for the Senate by former rugby league star Glenn Lazarus, began experiencing heart problems.
Like many kids growing up, the brothers all played football in the backyard of their Ipswich home when mates like Allan Langer dropped around for a "friendly" game.
Sandra and Kevin Snr were as supportive of their five boys as any parents could be. No parents could have been prouder after Kerrod, Kevin and Steve were all selected in Australia's 1992 World Cup squad - a feat never previously achieved or repeated since.
We had a chance to catch up with Steve and Kerrod Walters for a chat about Kevin before Wednesday night's Origin game.
But not to be outdone, Kevin fired the first shots, warning his brother would "tell more lies" about him.
"I was the number one Walters, particularly playing-wise, my record speaks for itself," he said.
"It's often debated who was the best footballer but it's all friendly banter and they will be there to support me for Origin II."
BROTHERS SPILL THE BEANS ON THEIR BACKYARD FOOTY DAYS
Australian Regional Media caught up with Steve and Kerrod and for chat about Kevin and growing up in Ipswich.
Q: So, how would you best describe Kevin?
STEVE: Short. Oh, you want more, you want me to elaborate on that?
KERROD: He's very determined. You don't win six premierships if you're not determined. He's also a bit of a larrikin.
Q: What is Kevin's best quality?
STEVE: His height (laughs). No, his passion and he is a lot of fun.
KERROD: Two things. He is very likeable and very caring.
Q: Out of the three, who got the looks?
STEVE: Brushing his fingers through his hair.. Ummm .. I think that question answers itself doesn't it? But I might add, it's not a very competitive race.
KERROD: I think we all missed out.
Q: Who got the brains?
STEVE: Again it's not an overly competitive race but I reckon I get them there too. But it's the old story, two twins sharing the one brain.
KERROD: Steven got the brains. He's got the big head for more brains.
Q: Who got the most talent?
STEVE: I might have missed out on the talent. Flip a coin on those two for talent.
KERROD: That was shared. We all got to play at the highest level.
Q: Which Walters brother was the best backyard footballer?
STEVE: Most would say Andrew when we were kids and that's probably a fair answer with Kevin second.
KERROD: It's hard to say because we always had to cut the game short because it got dark and we had to go inside because Steven was scared of the dark.
Q: Name a special moment or memory the three of you shared in rugby league.
STEVE: We all got picked for Australia in 1992 and went on a World Cup Year. The NRL's been going for 108 years or something and we are the only family to have three brothers in the same Kangaroo team and I'm very proud of that.
KERROD: That's easy. The 1992 World Cup when all three of us were picked to tour.
Q: Who did you pretend to be when you played backyard football?
KERROD: Kevin was Tommy Raudonikis, Steven was Rod Reddy, I was Terry Randle because I liked Manly and I was tough and robust like him (laughs), Brett was Bob Fulton and I think Drewie (Andrew) must have been Tommy Bishop because he liked Cronulla.
Q: Will Kevin clinch the Origin series?
STEVE: I never like to talk those things up too much but he's got a good chance because he has a wonderful group and super talented players.
KERROD: He has a fantastic group of players who've been there so long. He made a speech before the first camp and I think that resonated with the players when they had to dig so deep to win game one. I think he has brought that will to win at all costs.