Reece Walsh is forever grateful to the New Zealand Warriors for giving him a taste of NRL but he has no regrets about returning to Brisbane and is ready to haunt his former club.
The 21-year-old fullback whiz will go head-to-head with Warriors custodian Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in the preliminary final at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Walsh was released from the Broncos in 2021 and played 38 games for the Warriors in two seasons, before rejoining Brisbane at the end of last year with the blessing of Warriors chief executive Cameron George.
"The only condition of the release was that we found a suitable replacement and that happened when Charnze got the opportunity to come here," George told AAP.
"Reece is a terrific kid and his circumstances changed. He wanted to be the best Dad he can be and what you see off the field with him being happy, settled and stable is what we see with Charnze as well.
"I am proud we had Reece as part of our club and just as proud to see him kick on now."
Reflecting on his time at the Warriors, Walsh said it worked out best for all concerned, including Nicoll-Klokstad who has been a sensation this year after heading to New Zealand from Canberra at the end of 2022.
"I don't regret it but it was hard to leave the Warriors. They gave me an opportunity in the NRL and as a kid all I wanted to do was play NRL," Walsh said.
"They will always hold a soft spot in my heart. I made some really good relationships there on and off the field.
"It was a tough one leaving and looking back at it now, where the two clubs are, where Charnze is now and where I am, we wouldn't take it back for anything. I think it has worked out for both (clubs) pretty good."
Walsh said he had "really good leaders and mentors" at the Warriors including former coach Nathan Brown and fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who assisted him with the craft of being a No.1.
Current hooker Wade Egan and half Shaun Johnson also gave him key insights.
Walsh said Johnson was a deserved favourite for the Dally M and that the Warriors play revolved around him, but he intends to end the veteran's season on Saturday night
"I am really happy for him and happy that he is walking around smiling…but he won't be too happy this Saturday come 80 minutes," Walsh grinned.
"If we can do our jobs as a team we are an awesome footy team. We have just got to play the long game with them and try and do our jobs the best we can."
Walsh returned to Brisbane to win a title and that is the prize he has one eye on.
"It would be awesome," he said.
"If we do get through it will be something special but right now we have to focus on this week."