Blues ban! Kevvie’s bizarre new mental strategy
QUEENSLAND coach Kevin Walters has taken the extraordinary step of imposing a Blues ban on his players, gagging Maroons stars from talking about NSW in the build-up to Origin I next Wednesday night.
For the first time in Origin's 39-year history, a Queensland coach has banned his players from talking about the Blues in a bizarre mental strategy to ensure the Maroons are focused solely on themselves.
Under pressure to win back the Origin shield, Walters has personally addressed the entire Queensland squad ordering his 17 players never to specifically mention the Blues.
A Queensland Rugby League employee then conveyed Walters' stance to a media contingent, warning journalists not to ask Joe Ofahengaue and Ben Hunt about the Blues at Tuesday's scheduled press conference.
Maroons players have resorted to calling the Blues "them".
When Ofahengaue was asked if he knew who Queensland were playing against next Wednesday night, he said with a smile: "The other team."
Walters' left-field tactic will fuel perceptions that the Queensland coach, entering his fourth campaign, is feeling the heat in his bid to reclaim Origin supremacy after NSW's breakthrough win last year.
The Blues ban comes just 24 hours after Walters came out swinging in his first media conference of the series, shedding the underdog tag as he declared "this is war" and insisted "we will win Game One."
Queensland hooker Hunt confirmed the Maroons playing squad have been told any talk of Brad Fittler's NSW Blues is off-limits.
"Kevvie said we can't talk about them," Hunt said.
"He just wants the focus to be on us and what we can do.
"He believes he has picked the team that can win the series and wants us all to buy into that.
"It's business as usual, it's just putting the mentality in our heads that we've got the team to win and we have to train like we are going to win every session."
When Ofahengaue was asked about the selection of his Broncos teammate Payne Haas in the NSW team, he clammed up instantly.
"I don't want to talk about him," he said.
"I am more focused on Queensland at the moment."
Walters has been working with a self-styled 'Coach Whisperer' called Bradley Charles Stubbs, who charges $5500 an hour for personal mentoring sessions.
Earlier this month, Walters visited Stubbs, who hails from Maroubra in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Stubbs has previously worked with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, England's Eddie Jones and Socceroos legend Graham Arnold.
In the NRL, Stubbs has worked with Roosters' Trent Robinson and former Souths coach Michael Maguire, helping them to two premierships. Robinson rewarded Stubbs with a premiership ring from last year's defeat of Melbourne.
One of Stubbs' key themes is never mentioning the opposition. Cheika was told to never use the term "All Blacks".
Walters on Monday declared Queensland "expect to win", borrowing a mantra from Stubbs, who told The Courier-Mail when contacted today: "Expect to win. Done. Done. Done."
"The other team, they can do what they want," Walters said. "My focus is this Queensland side and getting the ultimate performance from them on Wednesday night and I expect that performance. If we get that performance, we will win."