Warriors young gun Reece Walsh claims he had no plans to ever leave Brisbane before being told by Kevin Walters he’d be held back from playing first grade.
Walsh has shot to stardom in his first five games for the Warriors, setting up three tries and scoring one to almost single-handedly bury Wests Tigers last week.
His meteoric rise has coincided with similar questions on how the Broncos let fellow 18-year-old Sam Walker slip, after the pair played Australian Schoolboys together.
While Walker escaped Brisbane’s grasp two years ago, Walsh began this season at Red Hill after growing up supporting the club.
But he said he could not see a path into first grade after feeling Broncos coach Walters was holding him back.
“I just sat down and had a chat with Kevvie and that. And the plans I wanted for my future weren’t really the same he wanted,” Walsh said ahead of Friday’s game against North Queensland.
“I wanted to play first grade. I’m not saying I wanted to jump into it. But Kevvie didn’t think I was quite ready.
“He wanted to hold me back a little bit and they had Jamayne (Isaako) there. I wanted to play first grade.
“It was a tough decision to leave the Broncos, I wanted to be a Bronco my whole life and that hasn’t come. I thought I would be a Bronco for life.
“But now I am here at the Warriors and I am a Warrior now and very grateful.”
Walsh was immediately won over by Warriors coach Nathan Brown, with the vision sold he would be the heir to rugby-bound Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s throne as the club’s fullback.
Within a week of being at the club, Tuivasa-Sheck told Brown he wanted to vacate the No.1 jersey to let Walsh take over early.
The Gold Coast junior is now certain the No.1 spot is for him after briefly being used at five-eighth to allow Tuivasa-Sheck to remain at fullback.
“With what Rog has done in the game – he’s won a premiership, Dally M and golden boot – for him to do that it makes it special,” Walsh said.
“I feel like fullback is definitely the spot for me. I want to nail it down and get it right.”
Meanwhile Walsh broke Tigers coach Michael Maguire’s heart twice last Friday night, also telling the New Zealand mentor he was pledging his allegiance to Australia.
Walsh’s birth mother is from New Zealand but he has lived in Australia his whole life and considers himself a Queenslander.
“(Maguire) did say to me in (the sheds) about the Kiwis and what I want to do,” Walsh said.
“But I said I’m an Aussie mate, that’s the highest level.
“I love Queensland and it’s a dream of mine to play for Queensland.”