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Kicking on: Origin rookie's skilful capers no fluke

Kurt Capewell has credited his former coaches, the Walker brothers, for instilling the belief and skill that enabled him to come up with a match-turning play on his Maroons debut.

Capewell, who won an Intrust Super Cup title at Ipswich in 2015 under Ben and Shane Walker, left the field late in the 18-14 win in game one of the Ampol State of Origin series in Adelaide after battling through with a groin strain.

Trailing 10-0, Capewell broke free of opposite centre Clint Gutherson before racing clear and, at pace, kicked back in-field from the outside of his boot for AJ Brimson to swoop and score.

The Panthers utility said "100%" the play was influenced by the Walker brothers' ethos of instinctive, skilful rugby league.

"Their style of footy is very fun to play, they instil a confidence in players to back themselves, the same sort of belief that Wayne [Bennett] instilled in them when they were players. They would have got a bit from him … just playing eyes-up footy," Capewell said.

"[The Walkers] always said to back yourself and we used to practice chip kicks every session. I'm right footed and it was a bit of a hard one to kick it at full speed. I'm lucky it came off.

"I was lucky that when the moment came, we took advantage of it. If AJ's not on the inside, that play's probably not that good, I give the ball back and they might even have split our line. It was a full team effort."

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Shane Walker was "not one bit surprised" by Capewell’s execution of the play for Brimson after he mastered the art of all kinds of kicks at the club before leaving for Cronulla in 2016.

"I knew what he was doing and he knew exactly what he was doing. He rolled the ball out and used the outside of his foot because he wanted to bend it back infield," Walker told

"I have seen Kurt do that hundreds of times, running towards the sideline and having to kick back in-field."

The Jets had a training game called "backyard footy" where "the garden" was out of bounds and Capewell honed his skills to perfection.

He was also the club’s master of the short kick-off from restarts and Walker said the Jets had a 75% success rate at getting the ball back when Capewell had the duties.

Walker knew before kick-off that Capewell had done well to even take the field, but he was not surprised.

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"Kurt did a Police Special Emergency Response Team [SERT] camp at the start of the year with the Panthers and I had some mates in that who came back to me and said that Kurt was a real leader and cut out for that sort of stuff," Walker said.

"They said he just ate it all up and was just so mentally tough and physically resilient, and he showed that in the game.

"In one of his hits he nailed the NSW attacker on the fifth tackle and then jumped out and sprinted to get to the kicker. He is a selfless player who puts the team first.

"He was touch and go on Tuesday whether he was going to play because he hurt his groin badly."

Capewell was on light duties at Maroons training on Friday but said he would be fit to play in Sydney on Wednesday night.

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"It's good, I pulled up alright. It's only a sore groin," he said.

"It was pretty tight but game day I was moving fine. I was pretty happy to get where I got to."

Capewell said the Maroons had plenty of improvement in them and was not fazed by being written off in some quarters prior to the start of the series.

"We keep hearing this from the media ... we certainly didn't think that," Capewell said.

"After the game, we were very satisfied and happy, there were plenty of debutants that were over the moon. But we have a lot to fix and get better at and hopefully roll into game two even better."


Game two tickets start from $45 for members and $49 for general public or get your wig and experience the Blatchy’s effect from $85 for members or $90 for the general public 

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.