Famed for their sporting partnership during the Broncos‘ heyday in the 1990s, the two Ipswich natives are now harnessing their combined talents in a coaching capacity, steering the club towards another successful stint. Mixing their sense of humour and camaraderie with a determined focus, they are guiding the Broncos towards what could potentially be their seventh premiership.
“The value of Alf’s contributions to the club in his post-playing career is often overlooked. I, for one, have always recognised his input,” noted Walters in reference to his assistant, and former halves partner, Langer. “Having him on board is a remarkable asset and the fact that he has always been a Broncos man through and through, makes it that much more special. His rapport with the players is fantastic, and paramount to everything, Alfie has always been about winning.”
The duo each have an impressive record with the Broncos, with Walters having won five premierships during his active playing tenure and Langer claiming four. Both were key players under former coach Wayne Bennett and served under him in the coaching staff for Brisbane.
Last year, Bennett caused quite the uproar when he attempted to ‘recruit’ Langer to join the Dolphins. Pundits were up in arms, consider it close to sacrilege. However, Bennett justified his move as a tactic to increase competition. “I was merely trying to assist him in securing a salary bump,” Bennett chuckled. When posed with the question, did Langer secure a raise? Bennett confidently responded, “Most certainly, he did.”
His sentiments about Langer staying being with the Broncos were quite clear. “I, frankly, did not want him to part ways with the Broncos,” Bennett confessed. “I consider Allan an integral part of the Broncos‘ spirit and legacy. There’s no two ways about that. He’s well aware of the esteem I hold him in. In my eyes, where there’s Brisbane Broncos, there’s Allan Langer.”
Bennett has also expressed his elation about Walters finding fulfilment in his dream coaching role and effecting a significant turnaround for Brisbane, taking them from the bottom in 2020 to reaching a top-two finish within a span of three years.
Walters had to bide his time, having been passed over for the top coaching spot back in 2018 when Bennett left the Broncos for the second time. “Kevin’s dedication and perseverance have paid off well for him,” Bennett said. “He’s done an outstanding job there and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Under Bennett, Walters had once captained the Broncos to the 2000 premiership title after Langer had led the team to their four former victories. Walters visualises the club touching glory again on October 1.
“Every coach begins the season fostering ambitious dreams. We are no different here at the Broncos,” voiced Walters. “The goal still remains achievable for us, so we will persist undeterred. Ultimately, all the hard work manifests in the form of that trophy and we remain steadfast in chasing that goal.”
Reflecting back on the team’s low point in 2020, Walters appreciates how far they have come or more aptly, risen. “Heaps of thanks to all the individuals involved in this resurgence,” he said. “Our staff, performance team, other coaches and players have all shown relentless commitment over the past two years.”
Langer relays the same mantra to all the Broncos‘ players. While his physique may not be as trim as it once was, fans today could swear they see him on the field just as much, albeit in a different capacity. “He’s essentially our 14th man,” Walters jested.
Bennett couldn’t help but retort with his own playful jab at Langer’s physical condition. “If he’s the 14th man, he had best start shaping up. He’s not currently in top form,” Bennett chuckled, adding in jest, “Just hope he doesn’t suffer a hiccup during the crucial matches.”