Warriors wonder kid Reece Walsh’s whirlwind rugby league education continued in a 10-6 loss to Newcastle on Saturday.
The 18-year-old fullback, who has been touted as a potential Queensland saviour for Origin II at Suncorp Stadium after just seven NRL games, was again never far from the action all day.
With the scores locked at 6-6 and the Warriors running into the wind, Walsh pushed a field goal attempt to the left in the 75th minute.
He made a 70-metre bust in the 15th minute after recovering a bouncing bomb, only to be dragged down close to the line and made another break shortly after when moved to the wing to rest a minor knee injury.
But it was his inability to defuse several towering bombs in treacherous conditions during the second half that allowed Jake Clifford and Mitchell Pearce to turn the screws for the Knights.
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Eventually, those chances resulted in Pearce setting up the winning try for Brodie Jones.
Rather than criticise his prodigy, Warriors coach Nathan Brown suggested his own halves, Kodi Nikorima and Sean O’Sullivan, could have asked similar questions of Newcastle fullback Kurt Mann in the first half when the visitors had the howling gale at their backs.
"It’s extremely difficult. It’s probably more disappointing that we didn’t put their fullback under the same pressure," Brown said.
"Billy Slater wouldn’t catch them all out there today.".
Zero to 150 in six weeks: Walsh noise not helping young Warrior
Brown said Walsh, who has been thrust into the spotlight since joining the Warriors from the Broncos, had shown maturity beyond his years.
Massive social media attention and a torrent of mainstream media speculation about his chances of being called into the Queensland squad for Origin II have kept him on his toes.
"It’s got to be a little bit difficult. I know there’s a lot of people giving opinions on Reece that haven’t been where he’s been," Brown said.
"Reece was ... six weeks ago, no-one knew him. I’m not on those social media things but I believe he had 2000 followers when he first came to us and now he’s got about 140,000, and he’s gone from playing nothing [at all] to a star.
"A lot of people giving opinions and commenting on Reece, when they played, their career slowly went ahead and they weren’t playing at 18 … Reece has gone from zero to 150 in a six-week block.
"He’s had a child along the way as well, so he’s had some life-changing experiences, and he’s a good young kid and he certainly doesn’t get carried away with himself.
"But I’m sure he’ll look at some things from this week and he’ll think, ‘could I have done that differently or handled that differently?’, but that’s a part of life being a young kid. For all of us, for coaches, we learn every week too, and we’re a lot older."
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After several similar losses this season, Brown said all of his players need to learn some lessons.
"You would hope that playing in a game like today and understanding the conditions and the wetness and the greasiness and how you play in them, sometimes, unfortunately, blokes learn at that level where the really experienced players get out there and just get the job done," he said.
"If they learn lessons, it’s good if we find ourselves in similar situations. We played Manly and lost 13-12 to Manly and we got some stuff wrong that night in greasy conditions and that type of stuff, so that’s probably the most disappointing thing.
"That’s probably the second time in those type of conditions where we could have done some things a little bit differently to help ourselves and we didn’t quite get it right."
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