Former Broncos skipper Corey Parker spoke of his ax through Brisbane trainer Kevin Walters and said he didn’t see the shock coming.
In the first major ruin of Walters’ NRL coaching career, tensions erupted between the Broncos legends on charges that Parker was pushed by Brisbane’s coaching staff without being officially announced.
Parker has broken his silence on his mysterious departure, expressing confusion over his being dumped by Walters, who had consulted the 347-game Broncos before and after his appointment as head coach.
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To add to the pain of his surprise resignation, Parker claims Walters never told him of his firing – until he personally called the Broncos manager to ask him if he was part of his plans for this season.
Parker was on former coach Anthony Seibold’s assistant team last season and said he had ongoing talks with Walters following their wooden spoon finish under Seibold as part of strategic plans to rebuild the Broncos this year.
Instead, Walters hired the veteran duo John Cartwright and Terry Matterson as his assistants for his first responsible year.
When the Broncos kicked off their 2021 preseason in late November, Parker said he had not been informed and urged him to check with Walters about his role, which shed light on his firing.
« I worked as a coaching advisor at the club throughout 2020, including after Kevvie’s appointment, and the feedback has always been positive.
« During the last series of finals, and then in the off-season, I trained some of the boys early in the morning, starting at 5am.
« In the conversations I had with Kevvie (late last year) he indicated that he wanted to include me and loved what I was doing.
« We all left for the (Christmas) break and at no point during that time has anyone suggested that the coaching role should not continue.
“You don’t have to be an Einstein to find out what’s going on when the Broncos return to training and you haven’t been notified.
« When the new year was over I picked up the phone and called Kev to find out where I was. For some reason he didn’t want me to be on the team this year. »
Walters and Parker are two of the most decorated characters in Brisbane, having played 588 games together for the Broncos.
They have known each other for more than a decade and are delighted with Walter’s first Origin series win as Queensland coach in 2016, when forward Ironman Parker was his Maroons ban in his final season at the NRL.
The couple have since been a media colleague as expert commentator for Fox Sports, but relationships were strained by Walters’ decision to throw Parker off his Broncos coaching staff.
Parker is believed to have learned from Walters that he will be Queensland’s U18 coach in 2019.
Walters can refer to being fired as an assistant. In 2005, he was sensationally punished by Bronco’s super coach Wayne Bennett, who told Walters he had to leave Red Hill and spread his wings to hone his coaching skills.
Now, 15 years later, Walters is back on Bennett’s throne as Broncos head coach, saying there’s nothing scary behind Parker’s resignation.
« He’s the second best player at the club and he has a lot to add to the Broncos.
« That’s not the point here. He has a lot to offer on the track and even now there are things he can do as an ambassador for our club.
« I just felt like I needed experience in my assistants and ‘Carty’ and Terry Matterson have each been training for 20 years. It was like Wayne, I went away to work on my coaching, to gain experience, and it was good for me.
Parker says he would have liked more transparency but is determined not to let the setback derail his NRL coaching ambitions.
« Sometimes it’s difficult to have honest conversations and not everyone is comfortable, » he said.
« I’m a big boy though, and I’ve known these people for many years. It shouldn’t be difficult to communicate or be transparent.
« Coaching is something I really enjoy and will continue to pursue. I also really enjoy my work with Fox Sports.
« Would I like to work with the team this year? Definitely. But from afar I wish Kevvie and the Broncos all the best. »
Broncos hooker Jake Turpin was one of several young strikers to have Parker mentored over the past year, praising the 2006 premier winner’s coaching ability.
« He knows the game very well, is very smart and a very good role model for the younger boys.
« We have inexperienced strikers and Cozza was a really good role model for the younger guys.
« To have a man who has played 300+ NRL games to help us, he was excellent. He brought a lot of knowledge about jerk play and how we can improve as strikers. »
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