Cherry-Evans: ‘Coach Whisperer’ inspired Kevvie
Skipper Daly Cherry-Evans has become the first Queensland player to break his silence on the "Coach Whisperer", claiming Kevin Walters' secret weapon has inspired the Maroons mentor.
Launching Queensland's campaign last Monday, Walters surprisingly shed the Maroons' traditional underdog tag, declaring "this is war" and "we will win" in a spectacular salvo at Brad Fittler's Blues.
Walters' passionate press conference address was so strong, confident and uncharacteristic in its delivery it had many wondering if someone was behind 'Kevvie's' pre-match fireworks.
It later emerged Walters has spent the past two months working with Bradley Charles Stubbs, a self-styled Coach Whisperer who has worked with leading NRL coaches Michael Maguire and Trent Robinson.
Souths boss Shane Richardson came out swinging at Stubbs on Sunday, alleging Rabbitohs players couldn't cop him and saying the Maroons' mentalist had little involvement in the club's 2014 title triumph.
Walters has yet to publicly speak about his dealings with Stubbs, but his most important senior player, Cherry-Evans, is adamant the mind coach has added a fresh edge to the Queensland coach.
"He has obviously had an effect on Kevvie," Cherry-Evans said of Stubbs.
"Is it a positive one? In my opinion it is.
"I don't know the bloke personally but the impact he has had on Kevvie Walters I feel has been a positive one.
"Kevvie has come into camp really excited and with a lot of belief in his playing group. That is the best part about it.
"Whatever has been said or done between those two ... what we have seen is the benefits of a coach who has come in with a lot of belief."
Now in his fourth campaign as Queensland coach, Walters has looked like a man on a mission over the past week in Camp Maroon.
Walters has not been overly dominant at day-to-day training. He has trusted his assistants, including Justin Hodges, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater and Petero Civoniceva, to deliver key one-on-one messages to players.
But Walters' purposeful stride has been palpable. Queensland insiders say the Maroons' team meetings and Walters' behind-the-scenes actions have never been more intense.
"Kevvie has been fantastic," Cherry-Evans said.
"He was obviously a bull out of the gates at the start of the week and he was the same behind closed doors with the team. He was very passionate about how he feels, he was extremely excited about what lies ahead for this Queensland side.
"As a player it is hard not to get excited about your coach and how passionate he is about you.
"It certainly instills belief from the start of the camp knowing he feels so good about you as a player."