Darren Lockyer makes call on Reece Walsh and James Tedesco for Kangaroos fullback

The Australian selector has weighed in on the debate surrounding the Kangaroos' No.1 jersey.

Darren Lockyer, James Tedesco and Reece Walsh.
Darren Lockyer has weighed in on the James Tedesco and Reece Walsh debate. Image: Getty

Kangaroos selector Darren Lockyer has revealed Reece Walsh still has a way to go in order to displace James Tedesco as Australian fullback. Walsh and Tedesco will go head-to-head on Thursday night as the Broncos face the Roosters, in the latest battle of the superstar fullbacks.

Walsh soundly outpointed Tedesco as Queensland won the State of Origin series, with Walsh playing a blinder in the first two games. Tedesco was brilliant in Game III while the suspended Walsh watched on from the sidelines, but Queensland had already won the series.

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Walsh has been in scintillating form this year, and although Tedesco produced a masterclass last week against the Titans, his form has been disappointing in 2023. It has led to calls for Walsh to replace Tedesco as Kangaroos fullback come the end of the year.

Speaking to Wide World of Sports on Wednesday, Queensland legend and Kangaroos selector Lockyer hinted that Tedesco would retain the No.1 jersey. "There is no doubt Reece's time will come, but Tedesco is the incumbent Australian captain," he said.

"We know [Walsh] is talented and has been able to play on the biggest stage at Origin and have an impact. I would say he is the most dangerous [fullback]... but the important games are starting to come up. This is where the cream floats to the top.

"This is the big test. He got into the Origin arena and he passed that. Now his next big test is the next six weeks and the finals."

Josh Reynolds and Reed Mahoney were asked to weigh in on the debate on NRL 360 on Wednesday night, with both of the belief that Tedesco is still superior. "For me, Teddy’s had sustained success for such a long time. He is catching him but I’m a big Teddy fan," Reynolds said.

Mahoney added: “I feel like at the moment Reece Walsh is, in terms of fullbacks in the game, he’s probably the most consistent... but overall I can’t go past Teddy. He’s done everything in the game.”

Reece Walsh relishing battle with James Tedesco

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Broncos coach Kevin Walters said Walsh was relishing his latest battle with Tedesco. "Talking individuals, I know it's a team sport, but you like to match yourself against the best and that's what Reece is doing," Walters said. "It's a great challenge for him to be at his best. We will need every bit of Walshy's skills against the Roosters."

Roosters coach Trent Robinson said: "That position (of fullback) especially is why a lot of people watch the game. They get excited. There is a freedom that comes with the fullback role and it is no different with those two players.

"They get freedom to play both sides of the ball and through the ruck. They get freedom to chance their hand at different times as well."

Reece Walsh in action for Queensland against NSW.
Reece Walsh in action for Queensland in State of Origin. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Walters added: "It excites me seeing Reece play and in open field, I'm not sure about seeing James Tedesco in open field. Reece brings that energy to the team. We saw it last week, so he just needs to be good and make sure we get our defensive roles right with Reece.

"He has to get the numbers right and make sure we are filling up our short sides and then the attack side of it comes natural for him. He has been good for us in that space."

with AAP

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