Fracture confirmed after sickening head clash

NRL Rd 3 -  Panthers v Broncos
Kotoni Staggs with injured Reece Walsh. Picture: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

Brisbane Broncos star Reece Walsh had to be driven back to Brisbane, with his playing return unclear after scans confirmed he suffered a facial fracture in a head clash on Thursday night that Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said was an accident.

Penrith’s Taylan May was placed on report after the collision, which left Walsh with a severe cut around his eye just a few minutes into the rematch of the 2023 grand final at BlueBet Stadium.

On Friday morning, the NRL confirmed May had not been charged by the judiciary.

The hit left Walsh bleeding profusely and he was forced from the field to undergo a head injury assessment, which he passed, before being ruled out of the contest due to his inability to see properly.

Walsh had to have stitches and despite hopes he had avoided further damage, scans confirmed a facial fracture that could sideline the superstar fullback for some time.

Broncos head of performance Dave Ballard said Walsh was taken to hospital and underwent a CT scan that showed a facial fracture.

“As a result, he cannot fly home and is being driven back up to Brisbane today by our staff,” he said.

“We will be able to determine how much footy Reece will miss once the injury settles down and after we consult a specialist in coming days.

“Reece’s wellbeing is our priority and ensuring he is well looked after. We will get him safely back to Brisbane and then move forward.”

Broncos coach Kevin Walters didn’t think the collision would end in suspension for May despite the Walsh injury

“I didn’t see too much in it,” Walters said.

“It is one of those things that can happen.”

Cleary was of the same mind and said Walsh moved “pretty fast” and collisions would occur.

“It just thought it was an accident,” he said.

“I actually thought he was trying to pull out of the tackle. If he had have bent down, which the bunker was suggesting he should have, he would’ve hit him in the head with his shoulder which is not what we want.

“Reece Walsh moves pretty fast and these things happen.”

Walters said Walsh was “not too good” after the incident.

“He’s having trouble seeing with that big gash,” Walters said.

“He tried to get back on but he just wasn’t right to go, so I pulled him from the game.”