Reece Walsh to start for Maroons in State of Origin's second clash

By Te Ao - Māori News

Warriors young gun Reece Walsh only has seven NRL first-grade appearances to his name but the 18-year-old fullback isn't done making waves for his first year in the NRL.

Confirmed today, Walsh has been called to start for the Queensland Maroons side for game 2 of this Sunday's second State of Origin clash between the Maroons and New South Wales Blues.

Walsh's call-up, makes him Queensland's youngest player since 1995, at just 13 days shy of his 19th birthday.

Walsh has Māori whakapapa, and has spoken of his desire to reconnect with this Māori lineage when he moves back to New Zealand. He was also visibly emotional when whānau and friends performed a haka after his Warriors debut on April 25 this year.

Walsh replaces Ngāti Kahungunu descendant Kalyn Ponga in the Maroons squad and joins fellow Māori players Dane Gagai and Valentine Holmes.  

The match, in which Queensland hopes to tie up the series, kicks off from Suncorp Stadium this Sunday at 9:50pm on Sky Sport.

Is this the team to tie up the series? Credit: Facebook/State of Origin

"He's passed every test so far."

Maroons coach Paul Green says he's excited to have the young prodigy debut for the Maroons side.

"He's passed every test he's had to go through so far. Good players in the past have come up at that level, particularly around Origin so I've got confidence Reece will do that for us."

Green says Walsh's reaction, when he called to give him the news, wasn't a lot, to begin with. "I think he was just really over the moon to get an opportunity to play for the Maroons."

Though Walsh's selection was partly due to fellow player AJ Brimson's knee injury, Green notes on his confidence. "He's not afraid to back himself, and a good trade-in, in most good players, is if they make a mistake they can get themselves back in the game pretty quickly. He's been able to do that."