Michael Ennis and Braith Anasta can’t understand how the Brisbane Broncos let Reece Walsh slip through their fingers and sign with the Warriors after seeing the young gun’s potential in the first two games of his NRL career.
The 18-year-old has been earmarked as Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s replacement when the Warriors skipper departs at the end of the season to switch to rugby union. Walsh signed a three-year deal with the Warriors in March, starting in 2022 but was granted an immediate release last month.
Walsh made his NRL debut in Round 7 at fullback, then in Round 8 he played in the halves as the Warriors stunned the Cowboys in the first half to eventually secure a 24-20 win.
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The two-game rookie was a standout. He ran for 83 metres, had two tacklebusts, one linebreak and one linebreak assist.
Anasta said the Broncos made a “shocking call” in letting him go after watching the teenager impress in the last fortnight.
“I don’t know how they let him go,” Anasta told Fox League’s Big League Wrap.
“I’ve only seen him the last couple of weeks… but he looks like he has a lot of time, he has great footwork, he glides across the field, he’s electric.
“Walsh was amazing, Nikorima was fantastic as well. Their combination complemented each other and they let (Roger) Tuivasa-Sheck just do his own thing at the back. He’s a great player.
“What a shocking call.”
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Walsh is a product of the Queensland rugby league nursery, Keebra Park State High School and has played in the Queensland under 18s as well as Australian Schoolboys.
Ennis has kept an eye on him coming up through the ranks and says the Warriors saw something in Walsh that the Broncos didn’t.
“The fact that Nathan Brown said during the week that he wouldn’t play him at fullback because he still needed six weeks or so to really find that development in the fullback position, but he didn’t drop him. He put him the front line at five-eighth.
“He showed great confidence in him and I thought (on Sunday), even in the second half, there was no second half points for the Warriors, but he continued to go after the contest. He made a number of linebreaks and he threatened every time he had the footy.
“I watched him as a kid, particularly through his teenage years, and far out it astounds me that they let him go.
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“I spoke to people at Brisbane last year, and I know Brisbane were going ordinary last year but as a 17-year-old at training, he was carving them to pieces.
“The only concern was, could he handle the physicality of first grade. Gus Gould’s seen that a mile away and said ‘absolutely he can,’ thrown him into the deep end, threw him into the furnace at AAMI Park and there was no dramas.”
It’s not a good look for the Broncos who not only let Walsh walk, but also Sam Walker and David Fifita. Walker has been an absolute sensation for the Roosters since making his NRL debut in Round 4. On Saturday the 18-year-old became the first Rooster to set up five tries in one game. Meanwhile, Brisbane weren’t prepared to pay big money for Fifita and although the 21-year-old was well contained last Friday, he’s been destructive for the Titans and is the competition’s second leading tryscorer.