Kevin Walters wary of joining 'vicious' NRL coaching cycle
NEIL Henry's career goes on the line this week, but the same "vicious" cycle that looks set to claim the Titans mentor has leading contender Kevin Walters wary of stepping into "the big bad world of NRL coaching."
The Gold Coast board will meet once more over the next 48 hours, with the axe expected to fall on Henry following a spectacular falling out with Jarryd Hayne and a series of crisis meetings around the coach's relationship with his playing group.
Queensland coach Walters leads the list of potential replacements should Henry be shown the door with a year remaining on his estimated $400,000 deal.
And despite Walters being contracted as Maroons mentor for 2018 and in negotiations around a two-year extension himself, QRL boss Bruce Hatcher has told The Courier Mail his board would consider letting Walters walk "if he came along and said it was the opportunity of a lifetime."
But while momentum builds behind the scenes for one of Queensland's favourite sons to be parachuted into the state's most historically underwhelming sporting franchise, Walters has concerns about the cutthroat nature of week-to-week coaching in the NRL.
"I haven't had any conversations with the Titans at all about the position," Walters said on Sky Sports' Big Sports Breakfast on Monday morning.
"As far as I know Neil Henry's still got a job there as well which would be a bit disrespectful I would've thought.
"I do want to be (an NRL) coach. If that job becomes available, and again I don't believe that it will, I'm happy doing what I'm doing with the QRL.
"I'm just not sure if the timing is quite right for me to step into the big bad world of NRL coaching. It's a pretty vicious old world there if you don't get it right.
"As we've seen this year with a lot of the coaches, they just get attacked weekly if they don't win.
"I think there's too much emphasis placed at times on what the coach is actually doing and I think more should be said about how our players are handling different situations."
While speaking generally, Walters' suggestion that NRL coaches often end up carrying the can for an underperforming playing group speaks strongly to the mire Henry and the Titans find themselves in.
A fortnight of intense speculation has prompted denials from senior players that Henry has lost the dressing room as the club slumps to 14th on the ladder.
Earlier this year Walters copped it from all corners when he sensationally snubbed Billy Slater and backed a host of Maroons veterans leading into an Origin I loss, but still bounced back to secure a series win Cam Smith described as the most satisfying of his career.
The 49-year-old has served apprenticeships as impressive as they come in rugby league, working as assistant to Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett over multiple stints.
His head coaching experience is limited to two years with French Super League outfit Catalans - the second of which ended in a wooden spoon - and the Queensland rebuilding role he feels is by no means complete having debuted eight Origin rookies in 2017.
"I'm still contracted to the QRL as well and have got another year at least there,' Walters said.
"I hope to keep going for another few years to work through that transition period with our players so we'll see what happens.
"I think it is important if you are going to put your big toe into the water and have a bit of a crack at it, you've got to get the right club.
"Having said that though, there's only so many jobs around isn't there?
"But I'm really happy with what I'm doing with the QRL and I'll be surprised if something does happen on the Gold Coast.
"If it does, well maybe the QRL can have a look at it but I'm happy doing what I'm doing. It's a great job, very rewarding.
"I'm still on a high from this year's Origin - it was a brilliant series and one I got a to of satisfaction out of."