Kevin Walters wants his young Brisbane side to take the next step in their professionalism and, to that end, will share lessons from a documentary that he watched on tennis legend Roger Federer with them.
The Broncos coach has a selection of youthful players under the age of 23 in his NRL squad, including key spine players Reece Walsh and Ezra Mam, who are brimming with talent but far from the finished product.
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Walters said that in the documentary, Federer detailed his struggles on and off court in the formative stages of what became a great tennis career, after he learned to do the “one percenters” on and off the court.
When asked at Brisbane’s fan day on Sunday what area he wanted to see the club improve this year Walters replied “our overall professionalism as a unit”.
“The guys are great when they are here training and in video sessions. Their recovery here is really good but it is what they do when they are not here that we have got to get better at,” Walters said.
“It is not always easy when you are 18, 19 or 20 to be a professional sportsperson. There are lots of hills to climb.
“I was watching Roger Federer talk about when he was 19, 20 and 21 and he didn’t know what to do or prepare himself for a tournament, but he worked that out and turned out to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time.”
The Broncos were very good for two thirds of last season but fell away in the final stages to miss the finals altogether.
Walters said he would share what he learned from the Federer documentary with his players about how to find consistency.
“We have a lot of guys here with a lot of talent but they are young in the mind so we’ve got to get that maturity happening,” he said.
“There is a time to have some fun and a time to knuckle down and be a professional. It is about them learning to get ready to play, not for 16 rounds but for the 27 rounds.”
The coach confirmed fullback Walsh, five-eighth Mam and hooking duo Billy Walters and Cory Paix would play in the first NRL Pre-Season Challenge clash against Gold Coast next Sunday on the Sunshine Coast, but captain Adam Reynolds would likely sit out the match.
Walters is expected to sign a contact extension in the coming months, but didn’t want to discuss the issue.
“As long as I am happy and we are going well everything will look after itself,” he said.