Reece Walsh at centre of staggering call from Kevin Walters ahead of NRL grand final

The 21-year-old Broncos fullback is fast becoming the best player in the NRL.

Kevin Walters, pictured here with Reece Walsh and Darren Lockyer.
Kevin Walters has likened Reece Walsh to Darren Lockyer. Image: Getty

Kevin Walters has declared Reece Walsh is already on-par with Broncos legend Darren Lockyer in a comparison that sums up the immense potential of the 21-year-old superstar. Walsh blitzed the Warriors in the second half as Brisbane advanced to a grand final showdown with the Panthers.

Walsh ran rampant in the 42-12 preliminary final triumph, producing six line-breaks and three try assists to showcase his incredible talents. Lockyer won four premierships with the Broncos - three of which came in the same No.1 jersey that Walsh is currently making his own.

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While Walsh has been likened to a young Billy Slater, Walters was quick to point out the similarities he sees with former teammate Lockyer. "It's not so much his speed, it's the way he changes direction quickly," Walters said.

"Billy Slater is the closest I have seen. Darren Lockyer was one of the fastest guys in that sort of movement that I played with. He gets across the ground rather quickly."

Lockyer was in commentary for Channel 9 on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium, and had a first-hand view of Walsh's mastery. "The doubt Reece is causing when he skips across the field at pace is causing havoc," Lockyer said. "Every time … he is running with speed."

Fellow Broncos legend and four-time premiership winner Steve Renouf was in the Brisbane sheds after the win over the Warriors. Many of his 142 tries for the Broncos came off passes from Lockyer.

"Like Locky, what Reece does for this team is amazing," Renouf said. "He did it on the left side tonight, as well and what he does on the right side with (Kotoni) Staggs and (Selwyn) Cobbo is lethal.

"Reece just creates space for everyone outside him. When have we seen Kotoni run a hole? Only with Reece (involved). Kotoni wants to run over people like Justin Hodges used to, but Reece brings Kotoni in."

Reece Walsh, pictured here as the Broncos thrashed the Warriors.
Reece Walsh carved up as the Broncos thrashed the Warriors. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Broncos are benefitting from the stunning form or Walsh and captain Adam Reynolds, who signed with Brisbane when the Rabbitohs refused to give him anything more than a one-year deal. Walters said Reynolds was the "big fish" the Broncos initially signed last year, but Walsh "is a bigger, faster fish ... and a younger one too."

Walters was full of praise for the way Walsh bounced back after throwing a pass that Dallin Watene-Zelezniak intercepted and scored to give the Warriors an early lead. "I was fortunate enough to coach Billy Slater at the Storm and he had the same mindset," Walters said.

"It is a great skill of his to do what he does, but then to move on. He is very strong-minded to be able to do that, because a lot of other blokes would fall by the wayside."

Broncos and Panthers set to dominate for years

Sunday night's grand final will be the first between Penrith and Brisbane and officially ends the dominance of the Storm and Roosters over the last decade. For the first time in the NRL era, the sport has gone three seasons in a row without either the Storm or Roosters in the decider.

Reads 'NRL Finals 2023' with the cut out images of three players throwing a football - Cameron Munster, Nathan Cleary and Reece Walsh, with a backdrop of a football stadium.
Discover more of our NRL Finals coverage.

At least one of those teams played in all bar five of the deciders between 1999 and 2020, but it is Penrith who are now preparing for their fourth consecutive grand final. With the Panthers and Broncos boasting an average age around 25, Petero Civoniceva sees no reason why the two teams won't stay at the top for many years to come.

"With what the Broncos could potentially do and what the Panthers have already achieved, it's pretty frightening," Civoniceva told AAP. "That majority of the Penrith team are of a similar age, the same as the Broncos. They've both got every potential as well to be front runners in this competition for many more years."

with AAP

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