Revealed: Real story behind McGuire Origin snub
New Brisbane coach Kevin Walters has ruled out Josh McGuire returning to the Broncos as he addressed rumours the Maroons hardman is a toxic influence on team culture.
Speculation is rife that McGuire is unsettled in Townsville and craves a return to Brisbane - just two years after the Broncos granted him an early release to sign a four-year deal with the Cowboys.
The youthful Broncos pack is crying out for McGuire's hard-headed experience and Brisbane have been open-minded to a comeback for the 228-game forward enforcer.
If anyone is a fan of McGuire, it is Walters. The 30-year-old has been a key member of Walters' Queensland set-up for the past four Origin series, but he insists there is no room for a McGuire resurrection at the Broncos.
"I like Josh as a player and person but he won't be coming to the Broncos," Walters said.
"I have spoken to Josh about Origin stuff over the last six months, but I don't know what his situation is with the Cowboys.
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"In any event, there's no chance he is coming to the Broncos.
"We don't have the space as it is in the salary cap (for next season), so I want to put that (rumours of McGuire's return) to bed very quickly."
Walters' Maroons successor Wayne Bennett dropped a selection bombshell on Tuesday, axing McGuire from his eventual 27-man squad for next month's Origin series.
McGuire was considered a selection certainty, having played 14 Origin matches and winning the Ron McAuliffe Medal in 2017 as Queensland's man of the series.
Bennett declined to comment on the decision, but News Corp can reveal the multi-faceted reasons for McGuire's snubbing.
There were on and off-field factors.
Bennett was concerned by McGuire's erratic form for the Cowboys this season, which included giving away silly penalties. The super coach also noted 'Moose' had developed a worrying habit of turning his back when running into the defensive line.
The more serious issue was McGuire's perceived impact on team harmony. Maroons hierarchy discussed the potential for McGuire to kick stones if he was left out of the 17-man starting side and forced to be a spectator in Queensland's extended squad.
With Bennett determined to build a tight-knit culture during the three-week campaign, the 70-year-old wants no destabilising forces from within.
Bennett planned to personally ring McGuire to explain his decision, but Walters, having just stood down as Maroons coach to take charge of the Broncos, insisted on making the call.
"I was surprised Josh missed the squad but I understand where Wayne was coming from," he said.
"There is a new batch of Queenslanders coming through and he wants to give some young guys an opportunity."
Asked if McGuire could erode team harmony, Walters said: "I don't see Josh being a problem. To me, he is a good team person. He is certainly a strong character, but I don't disagree with what Wayne and the selectors have decided.
"I feel disappointed for Josh and talking to him, he is disappointed. But Josh has played 14 Origins and had some great success so if he doesn't play again, he can leave that arena with his head held high."
Cowboys football chief Peter Parr was as surprised by McGuire's Origin snub as rumours linking him with a Broncos comeback.
"Josh has two years to go on his Cowboys contract and not one club, including the Broncos, has made a single approach to us," Parr said.
"It's not even on our radar, we're keen to keep him.
"I was surprised he missed the 27. When you have a poor club season, you don't expect to have a lot of Origin representation, but as a club we felt Josh had done enough to make the squad of 27.
"Wayne Bennett is entitled to make his decisions as Queensland coach, so Josh just has to live with it and try to fight his way back."
Originally published as Revealed: Real story behind McGuire Origin snub