Maroons legend Cameron Smith has revealed Reece Walsh was given a talking to after the young NRL fullback took a swipe at the Blues after the Game I victory, despite the youngster causing more controversy in Game II. Walsh made his debut at fullback in Adelaide and was a standout as the Maroons won the game 26-18 heading back to Queensland.
Walsh was the target for the Blues ahead of the first clash with many calling for the players to make a statement against the youngster. However, Walsh proved he belonged in the arena after a stellar performance under thew high-ball after coach Billy Slater showed him trust.
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Although Walsh appeared to get ahead of himself after the contest after rubbing the salt into the wounds of the Blues team with some post-match comments. "They were always going to come (for me)," he said after Game I in Adelaide.
"They always think they are better than everyone down there in Blue. They think they own the game." The comments certainly caught the attention of the Blues and the media after the dust settled.
And it also caught the attention of the Maroons coaching staff. Smith said coach Slater and the staff were aware of the comments and spoke to Walsh after the spray from the youngster.
“Yeah we (saw) those comments,” Smith added. “Yeah, I think he got a little bit of feedback from that and he has learnt from that. He won’t make that mistake again.”
However, on Wednesday night, Walsh was involved in more drama. With 20 seconds left in the contest and the Maroons 32-6 up, Jarome Luai and Walsh got into a scuffle. In the brawl, Josh Addo-Carr threw a punch that missed, while it appeared Walsh head-butted Luai as the pair went at it.
Walsh was then seen pointing to the scoreboard and waving goodbye to Luai as his teammates held him back. The Maroons fullback was handed a straight send off.
But Walsh was clearly still pumping with adrenaline as he stirred up the Queensland faithful on his exit. Walsh was filmed kissing the badge and gesturing for the crowd to cheer as he was sent off. The move has divided the NRL worth with many slamming Walsh and Addo-Carr's behaviour in the dying seconds of the match.
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) June 21, 2023
Cameron Smith shuts down rumours over complacency
There was plenty of talk this week that the Maroons may have been revelling in their lead and were 'over-confident' heading into Game II. Smith was quick to shut that down ahead of Game II when he admitted Queensland knew the Blues would be desperate.
However, it was the Maroons that showed the fire and will to win at home to all but end Brad Fittler's reign as coach. The Maroons capitalised through two controversial tries to take a 10-0 lead - the first a questionable put-down from Valentine Holmes on the try line and a second to Murray Taulagi that contained more than a hint of a forward pass in the build-up.
Holmes opened the scoring in the second-half, before Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Xavier Coates and Jeremiah Nanai rounded off the 32-6 smashing.
Maroons coach Billy Slater praised his side's defence after only allowing the Blues to score once through Cook. Slater's men are now eyeing the first Origin clean sweep since 2010 in Sydney's dead-rubber.
"They're better than that too; they're just getting started," Slater said. "Proud is an understatement. I couldn't believe how proud I was (after game three in 2022), and they just keep raising the bar. The stats have been against this team for a long time, they just keep rising above it."
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