Young prodigy Walsh's dream comes true in Maroons call-up

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Walsh wears the Maroons jersey for the first time. Photo/vision credit: Q Plus


Twenty-four hours after his world changed, young Warriors fullback Reece Walsh fronted up to Australian media to discuss his next big adventure - starting in the same position for the Queensland Maroons in this Sunday's second State of Origin match.

The young Māori-Indigenous prodigy, only seven NRL games into his career, says he got the call-up from Maroons coach Paul Green while he was at the movies with his partner.

"About 10 minutes into the movie I got the phone call. I didn't really want to pick up the phone. Then I did pick it up and it was Greeny, so it was a pretty special moment.

"It's something you dream of since you're a little kid, but to get that call and opportunity to play for Queensland, my state, is pretty special but overwhelming."

Asked if he was up to the tall task of playing an Origin game, at just 18 years old, Reece says, "I think the boys will look after me and make the job for me as easy as possible."

His new teammates, who are part of the backline with Walsh, include other Māori players Dane Gagai and Valentine Holmes. Skipper/halfback Daly Cherry-Evans has even expressed his confidence in Walsh to play however he wants to on Sunday.

"It's awesome to have the captain say that about you. All I need to is prepare really well, go out there, use the boys around me, play my role, and do my job."

Despite opinions from people, including former New South Wales coach and Warriors consultant Phil Gould's concern with Paul Green's decision to thrust him into Origin so early, Walsh isn't deterred.

"I feel like everyone is going to have their opinion, that's all I have to say."

In the end, Walsh backs himself for Sunday.

"It's what you have to do as a footballer and you can't go out there and not think you're not ready or 'I'm gonna hold back'. You're playing for your mates, for your state, and your family. You don't want to go out there half-hearted."

The Maroons need to win their upcoming game at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane this Sunday to tie the series with NSW.