Maroons set to sign Walters on extended contract
MAROONS coach Kevin Walters is on the verge of securing a contract extension as Queensland powerbrokers threw their support behind the Origin legend despite losing the past two series.
A one-year deal is being finalised to keep Walters in charge of the Maroons until at least 2021.
Walters, 52, is off-contract at the end of this year's series and Queensland has suffered defeat in the past two years.
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Despite the possibility of losing three straight series, the Maroons want stability in their ranks and will look to extend Walters' tenure to at least six years.
The Queensland Rugby League will hold its annual general meeting on Friday and chairman Bruce Hatcher said a deal was close to being struck.
"That's well and truly under control," Hatcher said.
"He has got one more year to run and we are sitting down with him and talking about beyond this year.
"We will come to a decision either this month or next month.
"We do (want to re-sign him). It's an important thing for stability. We want to know we are locked away.
"It's going to be mutual but I think at least one year for sure."
Walters took on the Queensland post from the 2016 series after Mal Meninga guided the Maroons to nine series wins in 10 years, including a record eight straight dynasty.
Walters won his first two series in charge, but Queensland has surrendered the shield over the past two years following the representative retirements of Origin legends Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.
The Maroons won Origin I last year 18-14, but were thrashed 38-6 in Game Two and lost a thrilling decider 26-20 in Sydney.
Hatcher said while the QRL was concerned about losing three series' in a row, Walters wasn't to blame for the past two years.
"Everyone is concerned but my personal view is no (it wasn't Walters' fault)," he said.
"I'm not a 'point the finger' person. You can't just be black and white in these things and say 'that's a failure'.
"We had an enormous run (from 2006-15) and there were people in NSW dreading the contest. Now they're talking about a dynasty.
"No one wants to lose but you can't expect to win every year. I'm realistic enough to accept injuries and other things play a part. I'm not a blamer.
"We had some who were the best players in the world in their positions - Smith, Slater, Thurston, Cronk. They were exceptional talents and we had them in the same team.
"You can take a narrow view of the last three Origin series and say we've lost two.
"My view is if you actually analyse the last two, had we had Cameron Smith for one game in each series we probably would have won them both."
Walters, who played 20 games for the Maroons, will begin preparations for this year's series when he hosts a camp for 33 current and emerging Queensland players in Brisbane this weekend.
The coach admitted he was under pressure to win this year's series but was confident he had the players to bounce back.
"There is always pressure with State of Origin," Walters said.
"I am very comfortable with where we're at.
"I've seen over the last couple of years some really good signs. I'm really happy with what we've got to work with among our players and depth.
"I just can't wait for Origin. I'm really positive about what lies ahead for this team in 2020."
Walters is preparing for his fifth series as coach of the Maroons and Hatcher admitted the QRL was surprised to still have him in charge.
"We didn't think we'd still have him - there was an expectation he was going to be the Broncos coach," he said.
"In his contract we allowed for that amicable departure. That would have left us with a cupboard bare because the NRL clubs don't want their coaches being distracted by Origin.
"Whatever we do has got to be mutually acceptable between our board and him. It's got to be fair to both."