Maroons coach Kevin Walters is ushering in a new era for Queensland.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters is ushering in a new era for Queensland.

Walters: Maroons decade of dominance will never be repeated

QUEENSLAND coach Kevin Walters says Darius Boyd's shock retirement has rammed home the fact the Maroons' era of dominance is officially over - and they may never see the likes of it again.

Walters always faced a daunting task rebuilding the Maroons in 2018 as they began life without retired State of Origin greats Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.

However, the surprise call this week by Boyd, a veteran of 28 Origin clashes, to retire from rep footy effective immediately provided Walters with a sobering reminder of the big shoes that must be filled by the Maroons this year.

Smith, Cronk, Thurston and Boyd were instrumental in the Maroons' run of 11 series wins in the past 12 years.

"There was a really dominant era for Queensland, that 10-year period, and I don't think we will see the likes of it ever again," Walters told Fox Sports' Queenslanders Only.

"As sad as it is, it is unrealistic for Queenslanders to think they can keep on winning for another 10 years.

"It was just a wonderful era when all these guys came through. Now another player (Boyd) is gone so it's a bit sad."

Walters is hopeful of welcoming back another veteran - Billy Slater - for June 24's must-win Origin II in Sydney, with  the fullback named to make his return in Melbourne's NRL clash with Newcastle on Sunday.

Walters admitted Boyd would have been in the mix to fill the Queensland No.1 jersey if Slater failed to prove his fitness for game two.

Brisbane's Boyd was overlooked for game one after struggling with a hamstring injury at the start of the NRL season.

"I didn't see it coming but I can understand and totally respect Darius's thoughts around it," Walters said of Boyd's abrupt rep retirement.

"He wasn't selected for game one and we had some conversations around why he wasn't playing and I let him know clearly that he wasn't (being overlooked) for the series.

"If he could get back to the football we knew he was capable of he would have been welcomed back into the Queensland side.

"But on the flip side now he can concentrate on his club side, Brisbane. He's the captain and they have had an indifferent start to the year."

Former Queensland teammate Justin Hodges backed Boyd's rep footy call.

"As hard as it was, I think he made the best decision for himself," Hodges told Queenslanders Only.

"I think he would be the first to say he has not been up to the standards he can play this year.

"His hamstring has been his downfall probably. We haven't seen him really stretch out."

Queensland's Origin II team will be named on Monday.



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