Broncos 2023: Why Kevin Walters must stay on as coach despite Selwyn Cobbo criticism
After months of chasing Martin Taupau, Parramatta were hours away from getting their man. Until a random phone call from the Broncos ruined their plans.
If Kevin Walters is hopeless as a freshman coach, someone forgot to tell Marty Taupau.
The 32-year-old enforcer has been courted by Parramatta for many months and was reportedly hours away from pen to paper before the Broncos swooped in with a random phone call two weeks ago.
The Eels were horrified and angry when Taupau hopped on a plane the next day and joined Brisbane after touring their Red Hill base.
Despite his phone buzzing throughout the day with calls from Parramatta, Taupau agreed to terms after one of the fastest contract negotiations the Broncos have ever had.
It was a timely and significant win for Walters on the back of Selwyn Cobbo’s controversial podcast claims that he is not a good coach.
Those words would have hurt Walters deeply, as his reputation as a wise larrikin hides a sensitive nature kept far from the public eye.
The Broncos may have lost youngster Karl Oloapu to the Bulldogs, but scored another win when highly sought-after Herbie Farnworth reportedly agreed to stay in Brisbane beyond this year last week.
Two out of three is not bad. In rugby league contract wars, you never win them all.
These are important moments for Walters, because getting players to sign on to put their lives in his lap means much more than a trashy voice on a podcast.
That said, they say you should never waste a good crisis and Brisbane should have hit Cobbo with a simple request – tell us the reasons why you don’t rate Walters and let’s address them and make the club better.
A coach is judged on many things – choices, tactics, etc. – but it all starts and ends with one key vibe… players need to want to come or stay at your club rather than run away from it.
Parramatta played in last year’s grand final. It would have been so easy for Taupau to stay in Sydney where he played 13 years of first grade, move north instead.
Brisbane are on the verge of extending Walters’ contract and it looks like a sensible move as he is far more difficult to replace than most fans realise.
The prospect of starting again is a truly numbing thought for the club.
Craig Bellamy has had more approaches from the Broncos than Margot Robbie has received love letters from fans, but that ship has sailed.
Who else would you hire?
There is no doubt, according to those close to him, that Walters’ assistant Matt Ballin is a first-class coach in the making, but his time will come.
The NRL is desperately short of coaching options and none suited to the special pressures that come with coaching Brisbane.
As hurt as he may have been over the Cobbo affair, Walters handled it well by apparently joking about it in the locker room and just moving on. This is the way Broncos coaches should coach.
If they resented every controversial headline, they would be nervous wrecks.
Oddly enough, Cobbo’s claims may have galvanized rather than broken support for Walters in the dressing room.
Even players who have their issues with Walters have asked “why in god’s name would he say that?”
Originally published as Broncos 2023: Why Kevin Walters should stay on as coach despite Selwyn Cobbo criticism