Peter V'landys has clipped Reece Walsh after a run-in with a young Panthers supporter at the NRL grand final fan day this week. Video emerged on Friday of the 21-year-old Walsh sledging a teenage fan in Sydney after being told Moses Leota was going to "take his head off" in Sunday night's decider between the Panthers and Broncos.
Walsh responded "I'll take your mum's" before walking away. The NRL integrity said they had been made aware of the incident, but no investigation had yet been launched. "The NRL integrity unit is aware of the matter," a spokesperson said.
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Debate has erupted over the incident, with many of the belief that it was just some harmless sledging and that Walsh shouldn't face sanction. However others have suggested the 21-year-old should have been more mature than to bite back at the fan, particularly ahead of the biggest game of the year.
— Jack Blyth (@jblesfooty224) September 29, 2023
Broncos coach Kevin Walters leapt to Walsh's defence on Friday afternoon, telling Triple M radio: "It's difficult for 'Walshy'. You either love him or hate him and most people thankfully love him.
"We're in a bit of foreign territory here in NSW. So there's going to be some people out there that are quite jealous of Reece and how he plays the game and his looks and all those things.
"That's something he's going to have to get on top of for the rest of his career. You can't take Nerang out of the Nerang boy."
ARL Commission Chairman V'landys later told 2GB radio that he would expect better from Walsh. "He's still a very young man and needs a bit of maturity, there's no doubt about that," V'landys said.
"He's under a lot of pressure and he's under high expectation from everyone. He's a rock star, but he's got to do better than that."
Walsh has polarised opinion amid an outstanding season for the Broncos. The fullback is electrifying to watch when in top form, but has been prone to a brain explosion.
He was suspended for three games earlier this year and missed State of Origin III when he verbally abused a referee during a Broncos game. Walsh claimed he was speaking to teammate Patrick Carrigan, but the judiciary didn't buy his excuse and slapped him with the ban.
Pretty laughable that all he had was a mum comeback... that's year 8 kinda stuff
— Chris Clement (@Chris_Clem_nsl) September 29, 2023
Reece Walsh - welcome to 2023 - you’re supposed to be an adult!
Your comment was to a child.
@NRL I’d be interested to know what (if any) zero tolerance and child protection training NRL players undertake seeing as many children attend games and interact with adult players
— Notts Billy (@notts_billy) September 29, 2023
What a great role model for all the young fans out there…
— Daniel Mc (@pup218) September 29, 2023
— BomberBoss (@Bombers_Boss) September 29, 2023
Storm in a teacup
— Murray23 (@murray23) September 29, 2023
Notice the plan to “upset” Reece Walsh is well and truly underway in Sydney.
Be careful what you wish for Panther’s fans & Sydney media.. this kid doesn’t go into his shell.
Think I might back him for the CC Medal now 🏅 #NRLGF
— Zane Bojack (@zanofc) September 29, 2023
Please.. what a joke
— firstname.lastname@example.org (@russell75272419) September 29, 2023
Reece Walsh credits Adam Reynolds for newfound temperament
The 21-year-old has returned with a vengeance to lead the Broncos into the grand final. He has barely put a foot wrong since the suspension and credited captain Adam Reynolds for keeping him calm in the heat of the battle.
"When 'Reyno' (Reynolds) sat out some of the games, he was in my ear a bit that the boys need me a little bit more than usual and I have to be calm and use my voice a bit more in the good areas, instead of blowing up," Walsh said earlier this month. "Sitting those three games out ... I was disappointed in that.
"The role I play in the team is really infectious among the group, (with) the way I carry myself on the field. Being a spine member, people look at you and need to trust your voice, your decisions and everything that you do.
"Losing my head isn't the best thing for the team. I'm still young and I'm still learning and I'll probably still have some snaps in me every now and then. But I find myself pulling myself back a bit more and the leaders in the team are helping me in that area of my game a lot more."
Walsh was also sent off during the second State of Origin game after a fiery exchange with NSW five-eighth Jarome Luai in which both men head-butted each other. Walsh and Luai will go head-to-head once again in Sunday night's grand final.
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