Asked whether the 30-year-old needed to play for the Sea Eagles to earn Queensland selection, Walters said: “That doesn’t worry me at all, if he does or doesn’t play.
“Obviously it would be nice for him to play, but the important thing is he’s able to train with us when we start our preparation. We understand and he understands that if he can’t train he won’t play. It’s simple.
“We’ve got plenty of really good people ready to go and we want to make sure [they’re right]. Last year we fell into the trap of too many injured guys for [game one]. We had four or five guys who were in the camp who couldn’t train all week, but we’re not going to do that this year.
“It was a tough period for us leading into game one. I don’t envisage that happening this year and we won’t allow that to happen with so many guys not having played football or not fit.
“Origin is the one arena where regardless of who you are, if you’re not fit you’re going to be exposed. We won’t put that pressure on any of our players this year.”
Cherry-Evans remains a viable captaincy candidate for the Maroons alongside Cowboys skipper Michael Morgan, whose starting position could be contingent on Cherry-Evans’ fitness.
We understand and he understands that if he can’t train he won’t play. It’s simple
Walters used Magic Round in Brisbane to catch up with the majority of his Queensland hopefuls, but has remained tight-lipped on who will lead the state in the absence of Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith.
Talk of an Origin return for Smith refuses to die down despite denials from Walters, who again hosed down talk about the Queensland talisman.
“No doubt in my mind – and I’ve had the conversation with Cameron several times – I’m comfortable with his decision and Cameron said it as well about how excited he is about who’s going to win the race for the Queensland No.9 jumper,” Walters said.
“They’ll do a great job for Queensland it’s their time to shine.”
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.