Wayne Bennett and Kevin Walters at Brisbane Broncos training.
Wayne Bennett and Kevin Walters at Brisbane Broncos training.

What Kevvy’s exit means for Broncos, Bennett

BRISBANE'S NRL season seems to be going from bad to worse, following the sudden exit of respected assistant coach and club favourite son Kevin Walters.

Walters sensationally stood down from the role on Wednesday, just four rounds in to the NRL campaign.

The reason given was his desire to focus on his job coaching the Queensland Maroons.

Make of the situation what you will, but there's no doubt it leaves the Broncos in a sticky position.

It's the third time Walters has parted ways with supercoach Wayne Bennett.

Bennett sacked Walters as his assistant way back in 2015, only to bring him in again a decade later.

That year -  2015 - Walters helped lead the club to the NRL grand final.

Walters stepped away from the club again when he was promoted to Queensland's head coach the following year, and spent two years as an outsider.

It was only this season that Bennett brought Walters back in as his assistant. That association has lasted just four games into the season proper.

Broncos coaches Wayne Bennett and Kevin Walters.
Broncos coaches Wayne Bennett and Kevin Walters.

Walters' exit is likely to impact on the Broncos in the short term.

Essentially, Walters was a halves coach for the club.

In 2015 it was he and former teammate Alfie Langer who worked closely with then halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford.

The players credited the two assistants largely for their form.

And if ever there was a time the Broncos needed a specialist halves coach at the club, it's probably now.

Milford has so far failed to find much rhythm with new halves partner Kodi Nikorima and the blowtorch is squarely aimed at the two playmakers.

Bennett didn't try to hide an almighty spray aimed at the pair during a brutal training session following their round one loss to the Dragons.

Brisbane sits 10th on the ladder with two wins and two losses. But those two losses were far from convincing - being aided by a controversial referees' call in extra time against Wests Tigers, and a courageous goalpost against North Queensland.

Former Broncos player Ben Ikin suggested this week that skipper Darius Boyd be moved to the halves with Milford moving to fullback.

Kevin Walters at Brisbane Broncos training at Red Hill.
Kevin Walters at Brisbane Broncos training at Red Hill.

Whatever happens going forward, Walters will have no input. Bennett will need to make the call himself.

Walters' untimely exit could also have major long-term ramifications on the club as well.

Bennett is contracted until the end of 2019 but there's been plenty of speculation he could be stepping down from the job after this current season.

There's been suggestions Walters was brought back to the club to begin a succession plan of sorts.

Brisbane legend Steve Renouf earlier this year suggested Bennett should step aside so as to allow Walters to make the transition into senior NRL coaching.

But then Bennett declared he may not have signed his last NRL coaching contract, and at 68 years old he believes he might yet be coaching into his 70s.

He's also the head coach of the England national side, although his two jobs have so far not impacted one another.

But with Walters now an outsider once more, there will be plenty of links made between Paul Green and the Broncos head coach role.

Brisbane Broncos former assistant coach Kevin Walters.
Brisbane Broncos former assistant coach Kevin Walters.

Green's coaching contract with the Cowboys expires this year and his future is a hot talking point in rugby league.

It's believed Brisbane has shown interest in luring Green south to coach the Broncos, and possibly as early as 2019.

Bennett would need to step aside if Green was to sign a contract with the club, on the assumption the latter wouldn't be content to play second fiddle for a season.

For the immediate future, Walters' possible future with the club is well and truly up in the air.



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