In the second episode of SA Rugby’s new podcast series, which is also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, Walters gave insight into his role with the Boks in 2018 and 2019, and how the culmination was beyond his wildest dreams.
“When I was first approached by Rassie Erasmus to come work with the Springboks, it was a no brainer,” said Walters.
“I had complete faith in him and Jacques Nienaber, and seeing the calibre of rugby player here in South Africa, it was always going to be a really attractive proposition coming to work with these guys. I knew things could happen and I totally expected us to challenge for a World Cup.”
Walters said the first year with the Boks, in 2018, was “tough at times”, but that he realised something special was developing.
“The seeds were being planted, and being part of that development, and seeing how things would progress, was very exciting,” he said.
“The game in Argentina was very tough, which was followed by Australia in Brisbane, but then we won in Wellington (against the All Blacks), which wasn’t really a surprise within our group. We were very comfortable and confident in knowing there was something special happening.
“And then last year, 2019, was by far the pinnacle of my career and something I never dreamt of. First the Castle Lager Rugby Championship and then the World Cup in Japan, which was a culmination of a lot of planning and a lot of detail, and so unbelievable.
“Also, to have worked with a group who was so driven, and that includes the players who missed out as well: guys who came in an gave absolutely everything, some of them who were so close but didn’t make it in the end. Their character and attitude were incredible throughout.”
Walters said he was very sad to be leaving South Africa, but he and his wife are excited to be closer to their families in Ireland and Wales, while he is also looking forward to the challenge of working with the Leicester Tigers.
“This is rugby and life, and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to work with the Springboks, for the welcome I’ve had here, and I’ve made great memories,” he said.
The rest of the podcast with Walters, which also features comments from Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and Blitzbok Branco du Preez, is available here, while the first episode, with Rassie Erasmus, can be accessed here.