Wry Walters enjoying mind games before Dolphins clash

Joel Gould |

Brisbane coach Kevin Walters has been cracking jokes, talking down the rivalry with the Dolphins and making comments that could be interpreted a variety of ways as he prepares to do battle with his old mentor Wayne Bennett.

The Dolphins host the Broncos next Friday night at Suncorp Stadium in the ‘Battle for Brisbane’ with both sides undefeated after three rounds of the NRL.

Walters won five premierships as a player at the Broncos when Bennett was coach and now the duo go head-to-head in a local Brisbane derby for the first time.

The Broncos coach was speaking after the 40-18 win over St George Illawarra on Saturday night and the questions at his post-match presser inevitably turned towards the most anticipated NRL club game in the Queensland capital’s history.

Walters has his own wry brand of humour, forged in the working-class city of Ipswich, west of Brisbane where he grew up. Cryptic and mysterious, full of fun but also street smart.

The first question about next week’s blockbuster drew this response with a grin: “That’s for next week. We are still in this week…” 

Sitting in the bowels of Suncorp Stadium, the venue for next week’s blockbuster, he quipped: “I believe it is here … is it?”

It was put to Walters that it was great for the game and exciting for the city to have a rivalry between two unbeaten Brisbane teams.

“I guess that is why the Dolphins were put in Brisbane… to create that rivalry,” he said.

“We are not rivals of the Dolphins. We are the Broncos. That is our club. That is who we are and that’s where our mindset is. We are the Broncos.”

Bennett said after the Dolphins’ 36-20 win over Newcastle on Friday night that the upcoming showdown with the Broncos would be “the easiest game in the world to coach”.

“Everybody wants to play in it,” he said.

Walters, who Bennett once sacked as an assistant coach at Brisbane despite the pair’s great mutual respect for each other, was asked whether he felt the same way.

“I haven’t even thought next week to be honest with you. It is about tonight,” he said.

“There are some things we need to fix up, particularly our defence. We let in a couple of soft tries on the left and right side. We’ll fix that up, work hard and get ready for the team we are playing next week.”

Brisbane captain Adam Reynolds, who played under Bennett at South Sydney, was asked if he thought his former coach would have the Dolphins pumped up.

“I think so. It would be silly not to say yes,” Reynolds said, which prompted Walters to interject, “We know Wayne, don’t worry. We both know Wayne.

“It is great for the game though, it is. It is going to be good spectacle, but we’ve got to get through tonight. 

“He’s had one night’s sleep so let’s get a night’s sleep and we can worry about who we are playing next week.”