Kevin Walters’ approach to State of Origin has caused a stir. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Kevin Walters’ approach to State of Origin has caused a stir. Picture: Alix Sweeney

You’re ‘seriously unhinged’, Kevvie

QUEENSLAND coach Kevin Walters' bizarre, "out of character" anti-NSW hysterics have left him looking "seriously unhinged" and feeling the pressure of State of Origin, NSW greats warn.

Walters' war on NSW has escalated with the Queensland coach believed to have threaten his players with fines if they mention the dreaded word "Blues".

Former Blues enforcer Mark "Spudd" Carroll is adamant Walters' attempts to "brainwash" his Maroons players will backfire and have them mentally playing their game a week before kick-off.

Walters has gagged his players from referencing NSW or the Blues, in one of the strangest moves in Origin history and as part of a mental approach to Wednesday's opener in Brisbane.

Bewildered Maroons stars have, for the most part, towed the line, referring to the Blues as the "other state" or  "southern state".

What is Kevin Walters trying to achieve? Picture: Adam Head
What is Kevin Walters trying to achieve? Picture: Adam Head

It's all part of Walters' work with the renowned "coach whisperer" Bradley Charles Stubbs, who encouraged Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to refrain from directly referencing the All Blacks - a team Australia hasn't beaten for the Bledisloe Cup since 2002.

Stubbs, who is holidaying in Fiji, texted The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday saying: "I am not sure why you are calling me as I do very little media. The Coach Whisperer. EXPECT TO WIN. DONE DONE DONE. Thank you, very grateful, Bradley Charles Stubbs."

Coach whisperer Bradley Charles Stubbs and Queensland coach Kevin Walters.
Coach whisperer Bradley Charles Stubbs and Queensland coach Kevin Walters.

It's prompted Blues legends to question Walters' behaviour, which has included the usually jovial Queensland coach guaranteeing victory in Origin I.

"I just think it's silly, he sounds seriously unhinged," Carroll said.

"He is trying to brainwash his players into thinking there isn't a NSW. Guess what? Unfortunately, they still have to play NSW week.

"I have dealt with mind coaches before, but to have someone say 'don't think about NSW, don't say anything about the Blues'. Are you serious?

"When you're told not to say it then it actually takes energy out of you because you're thinking about it. It's true. In trying not to say, you're actually using energy. It's the reverse effect.

"Queensland is already playing against NSW in their minds and there's still a week before kick-off."

It’s a far cry from the relaxed atmosphere at NSW training. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
It’s a far cry from the relaxed atmosphere at NSW training. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Former NSW centre Ryan Girdler believes Walters is feeling the pressure.

"For Queensland to go and get a coach whisperer, it seems to be against the fabric of how they do things given they had guys like Mal Meninga at the forefront for so long," Girdler said.

"It is out of character and shows me there is a lot at stake, they lost the series last year and it seems like they are feeling the pressure.

"Then it's great to see the way Freddie's (NSW coach Brad Fittler's) behaviour certainly hasn't changed. He looks nice and relaxed, confident and in control.

"You have one state that looks really nervous and NSW looks like they're in total control."

Bryan Fletcher, a former NSW back-rower and the creator of the hand-grenade try celebration, initially thought Walters was joking by not mentioning the Blues.

"I found it very odd," Fletcher said. "It was very unlike Kevvie and I don't know whether it suits him. I was watching that press conference and waiting for the punchline but it never came, I was just left hanging.

"Isn't it because Kev has the football whisperer? Bradley Charles Stubbs, a Maroubra boy. He is helping the enemy and maybe Queensland needs all the help they can get.

"If Queensland wins then maybe we will all get whisperers."

Even former club teammate Laurie Daley was stunned, declaring: "I've never seen Kevvie like this before.

"But it just might fire his team up. He's passionate and this is a different side to him."