Josh McGuire during a Queensland State of Origin training session on the Gold Coast.
Josh McGuire during a Queensland State of Origin training session on the Gold Coast. DAVE HUNT

McGuire knows Maroons forwards are 'on notice'

MAROONS hard man Josh McGuire has rejected speculation coach Kevin Walters is under pressure after making mass changes to his Origin side, saying there is no one who knows better how to get big games "done and won".

Walters wielded the axe after Queensland's 28-4 loss to the Blues in last month's series-opener but McGuire said there had been little change to the demeanour of the "cool cucumber" known affectionately as "Kevvie".

"I love being coached by him to be honest. He's won six premierships and there's not many people with six rings around, so he knows how to get big games done and won," McGuire said.

"He's been in some great systems with Melbourne and the Broncos, he's a great student of the game, knows a lot about footy and I have the utmost respect for him and what he's done in his football career.

"When he speaks, everyone listens."

Walters wears his heart on his sleeve, something that was there for all to see in his emotional response to leaving Billy Slater out of the team in game one.

In the tough world of rugby league, a coach on the verge of tears could be seen as a weakness.

But McGuire can't help but love Walters' passion.

"Obviously people are different and I can't speak for everyone but I appreciate a person that cares and loves the jersey and it rubs off on a lot of us," the Maroons lock said.

"He genuinely loves this team and loves the state of Queensland and wants to perform and wants us to perform."


Queensland coach Kevin Walters.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters. DAVE HUNT

Walters was unusually frank in his assessment of the Queensland pack's performance in the series-opener, his disappointment showing in the mass changes he made ahead of Wednesday's clash.

While he said some turnover was natural after Queensland's decade of dominance, McGuire acknowledged the forwards were on notice.

"You're judged on performance, you're judged on success at this level and success speaks louder than anything else," McGuire said.

"Everyone's on notice, the best players in the world are on notice when you play at this level.

"That's just the way it is and no one takes that jersey for granted.

"You've got to perform every game."

McGuire will start in the middle with Dylan Napa and Jarrod Wallace, who was on Friday confirmed as a starting prop, with Josh Papalii set to come off the bench.

"Jarrod's a good football player, he's very fit, plays big minutes at Gold Coast," McGuire said.

"I'm very excited for Jarrod to get his opportunity.

"I think Josh Papalii brings a lot off the bench, he's a big body, a lot of punch, is very dangerous and I'll be very excited to see what he does when he comes on when everyone's a bit tired."

News Corp Australia

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