History-making former Ipswich co-coaches Jets Ben and Shane Walker.
History-making former Ipswich co-coaches Jets Ben and Shane Walker.

Could Walker brothers’ ‘high-risk’ style fit Warriors?

The battle for the Warriors' coaching job is hotting up with the New Zealand club holding talks with former Ipswich premiership-winning duo Ben and Shane Walker.

Warriors chief executive Cameron George confirmed he had interviewed the Walker brothers, holding talks as recently as Tuesday, as the club continues its search for a successor to sacked coach Steve Kearney.

Former Cowboys assistant Todd Payten is currently operating in an interim role but the Walkers have rocketed into contention after recent dialogue with Warriors management.

 

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Former Ipswich Jets co-coaches Shane and Ben Walker could create history at the Warriors.
Former Ipswich Jets co-coaches Shane and Ben Walker could create history at the Warriors.


The Walkers made headlines for their left-field tactical style, known as contract football, and served for nine years at Ipswich, winning the Intrust Super Cup grand final in 2015 before standing down last season.

While they walked away from the Jets to focus on business interests, the Walkers have not given up hope of coaching in the NRL and George said they could get their big break at the Warriors.

"They have expressed their interest and we've had initial discussions with them," George said.

"They are absolutely in the picture for us looking for a coach, or coaches in their case.

"We are exploring every avenue to underpin our future success and the Walkers could certainly be a part of our future.

"I will say this - the Walkers are not without a chance. I spoke to Ben Walker again on Tuesday so they are right in the mix."

 

Former Warriors coach Stephen Kearney and chief executive Cameron George. Picture: AAP Image/Darren Pateman
Former Warriors coach Stephen Kearney and chief executive Cameron George. Picture: AAP Image/Darren Pateman

 

The Walkers played 285 NRL games between them during a decade of service. Ben amassed 135 games at Brisbane, Northern Eagles, Manly and Souths, while Shane compiled 150 matches at the Broncos and Rabbitohs.

As co-coaches, they have had success in Queensland's Intrust Super Cup competition, turning the Jets from wooden spooners in 2010 to premiers five years later.

The brothers were formally interviewed for the Gold Coast Titans job in 2018, only to lose out to Garth Brennan.

The Walkers' coaching methods are seen as too risky by some to succeed at NRL level, but George said the Warriors would have no concerns over their style.

"They are terrific guys and I am really interested in their model and their methodology around coaching," he said.

 

Interim Warriors coach Todd Payten. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Interim Warriors coach Todd Payten. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett


"As I said to Ben Walker the other day, we are not scared to look at any option in regards to making the footy club better.

"I don't care how left-field some people think they are as coaches or whether they are non-traditional.

"They are ambitious and excitable with their attitude towards football and it would rub off on the Warriors players and staff that would work around them.

"They would bring a lot to any organisation. Toddy Payten is doing a tremendous job but the Walkers are certainly a part of the process we are undertaking."

Originally published as Could Walker brothers' 'high-risk' style fit Warriors?


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