Smith says new coach Walters is up to Origin task

HISTORY-making Queensland skipper Cameron Smith has urged fans not to compare rookie coach Kevin Walters to Maroons legend Mal Meninga.

Walters makes his debut as Queensland coach behind Origin's most successful mentor Meninga who, in Hollywood terms, is a "hard act to follow".

"Kevvie shouldn't be compared to Mal (Meninga)," declared Smith, who will break another legend, Darren Lockyer's individual Origin games record tomorrow night.

"He is his own style of coach and he hasn't tried to tinker with too much given what we have been able to achieve over the last 10 years."

Walters will face his first major call when he makes a huge decision on whether halfback Cooper Cronk plays after badly spraining his ankle four days ago.

In all likelihood, Cronk will try and run at the 'Captain's Run' at ANZ Stadium this afternoon, with Walters delaying a decision until he and the team's medical staff see how he pulls up.

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Smith admitted he and his players wanted to give Meninga's former assistant the perfect start to his time in charge, but stressed it was not their focus, which was to run out onto ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night and play to the best of their ability.

Meninga, who took over the reins of a struggling Queensland side in 2006, won eight series' straight and nine of the last 10, before taking over from Tim Sheens as coach of the Australian Kangaroos.

Walters though was the Queensland Rugby League's second choice.

They tried to get North Queensland's premiership-winner Paul Green, who turned down the position under pressure from his club to focus totally on the Cowboys' NRL title defence.

Lockyer says he always knew Smith would be great

Smith said Walters had his and the players complete support.

"I know all the players would like to get him away to a good start and have a win in Sydney," he said..

"But if we don't, it's game one (of the series) and there are two more to go.

"Our thoughts aren't about getting Kevvie off to a good start, we just want to play well as a team and put the team in a good position for the series."

Question marks linger over Cronk

NSW, which stopped Queensland's record roll in 2014 but was hammered 52-6 in last year's series decider in Brisbane, has been waiting 11 months for retribution following their record loss.

"I said last year it was a bit of a reminder to everyone, including ourselves, about how good a side we are and what we are capable of doing if we all turn up and play well," Smith said.

"But there's no doubt those nine or 10 guys from that game will still be hurting badly.

"Having a record score like that put on them .... they'll be thinking about it a fair bit to be honest.

"We need to turn up and try and play as good as we did in that game because if we don't it will be a hard night."

Topics:  cameron smith editors picks kevin walters mal meninga state of origin 2016

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