Hatred Not An Origin Motivation: Kevin Walters
Once again it will be mate against mate ahead of Wednesday's State of Origin opener in Melbourne - but not as we know it.
It may be enough to make the late, great Arthur Beetson turn in his grave but Queensland coach Kevin Walters reckons hatred is no longer a motivating factor in Origin.
Certainly Walters does not hate NSW counterpart Brad Fittler.
The signs were obvious when Walters sat down next to Blues rookie mentor Fittler at their joint press conference at the MCG on Monday.
Walters didn't see a Blues rival - he saw a former 1990s Kangaroos teammate.
The pair even began reminiscing about their playing days before a journalist finally asked: "Isn't State of Origin supposed to be about hatred?"
"Don't worry, I hate him," Walters laughed.
But he quickly added: "The game has moved in a different way around Origin.
"It's about desire and wanting to win, that's the big thing.
"You would have to speak to the players about hatred. We want to win and we will do whatever it takes to win."
The love-in then resumed when Walters was asked about former Blues skipper Fittler, who will make his Origin debut as NSW coach on Wednesday.
"I don't think he's a rookie. He's played something like 300-odd games, how many games did you end up playing - don't tell me you don't know," a laughing Walters said to Fittler.
"Give me the number, c'mon.
"But he has good people around him - in a respectful way, I say Brad will be good for NSW."
Walters kept the bromance going when asked who was the NSW player that was keeping him up at night before Origin I.
"Freddy has always kept me up late, giving me nightmares from our playing days touring together," Walters laughed.
"We had a lot of good times late in the evening I might add."
A jovial Fittler interjected: "C'mon, don't tell them any of those stories".
But Walters continued: "Playing against him, he had a massive right foot step I could never work out - that was a nightmare.
"We have been good friends but the friendship goes on the line on Wednesday night."