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Walsh's Fast and Furious ride into Origin cauldron

The timing, place and event couldn’t have been more apt when Queensland coach Paul Green called Vodafone Warriors sensation Reece Walsh to tell him about his selection for Origin II yesterday.

It was a moment that shot his already full-throttle fledgling football career into red line territory.

“I was actually at the movies with my missus and my family watching Fast and Furious 9 when I saw the call come from Greeny,” Walsh told today.

I was actually at the movies with my missus and my family watching Fast and Furious 9 when I saw the call come from Greeny

Reece Walsh Queensland fullback

“I had to go out to talk to him. It was crazy, unbelievable. I was just shocked but excited at the same time.

“I went back in to tell the family but they’d all guessed what is was about.

“I couldn’t tell you what happened in the rest of the movie. I missed so much of the storyline I’ll have to go and watch it another time.”

Fast and Furious 9 he might have been watching but in sporting parlance it’s ‘Reece Lighning’ who has launched his own Fast and Furious brand blasting from zero to 150 in footballing terms in a flash.

At 18 years 352 days and with only seven NRL games to his name, he’s the second least experienced player in Origin history. Only Ben Ikin (18 years and 83 days and four games) is ahead of him but it might be pointed out he made his debut in the ARL Origin series when the game was split with the formation of the Super League competition in 1995.

“I’m still shocked and buzzing today taking it all in. Just the thought of going into camp with all the Queensland players,” he said.

Well he might be because the 18-year-old has barely hit the NRL scene. Indeed, last year he couldn’t play rugby league at all with Covid-19 forcing the cancellation of all competitions below the NRL.

And in 2019 he was at the renowned Keebra Park State High School; think Benji Marshall, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Payne Haas to name a few.

After representing the Queensland State of Origin Under 18s and Australian Schoolboys in 2019 he was marked down as one of the game’s hottest young talents.

Signed on a development contract by the Broncos, Walsh had his first taste of senior football this year when he appeared for Brisbane – and made a big impression – in a trial against Intrust Super Cup side Wynnum-Manly.

Then within weeks the Vodafone Warriors had secured a huge coup by snaring him on a three-year contract rated by CEO Cameron George as one of the club's most significant recruitment successes. The catch then was that the Broncos wouldn’t release him until the end of the 2021 season.

Two days later he underlined his rich talent by scoring 20 points in his Intrust Super Cup debut for the Norths Devils before it was announced on April 10 that agreement had been reached for him to leave Brisbane immediately to join the Vodafone Warriors.

On April 18 he lined up for the club’s feeder side Redcliffe scoring a try and kicked three goals in a loss to Wynnum Manly before making a dramatic NRL debut at fullback against Melbourne on Anzac Day. The Storm were emphatic winners but the tyro in jersey #21 – Vodafone Warrior #259 – announced his arrival by having a hand in three of his side’s three tries.

A week later he was dazzling in the halves in a 24-20 win against North Queensland and ever since rugby league life has been launched into another stratosphere for this kid of both Indigenous Australian and Māori extraction.

In the first seven appearances of an extraordinary rookie campaign, Walsh has scored four tries – and might have had two more against Newcastle – and also showed his goal kicking quality with a superb side-line conversion of Euan Aitken’s try on Saturday. More than that, he averages 131 metres a game, has a total of eight try assists, seven line breaks, 25 tackle breaks and nine off loads.

Fast and furious for sure.

Now Origin awaits.

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