Wally Lewis' call for 18-year-old NRL upstart Reece Walsh has been trashed by NSW counterpart Phil Gould, who labelled the Queensland legend's call 'ridiculous'.
Walsh has played just six NRL games since joining the New Zealand Warriors for the 2021 season, but Lewis has seen enough to push for the teenager's Origin debut.
'CAN'T AFFORD THAT': Cam Smith exposes Maroons' State of Origin flaw
Queensland have been battered by injuries, and with Cameron Munster no certainty to face the Blues in game two, Lewis said Walsh would be an ideal replacement at fullback.
"There will be plenty of people questioning if he's old enough and I think you've heard me say it 100 times: if you're good enough, you are old enough," Lewis told Wide World of Sports.
However Gould wasn't interested in hearing it - despite acknowledging that Walsh was one of the best young talents in the league, the Blues heavyweight said it would simply be unfair on the young star to send him out so soon into his career.
"Reece Walsh is an outstanding young kid, he's 18 years of age, he's had six first-grade games, he didn't play at all last year because of COVID. And quite honestly, Queensland's problem isn't to be solved by an 18-year-old kid," Gould said.
"There's plenty of other people they can find to pull on an Origin jersey for them - and they have done this regularly ... Go back into your Queensland Cup and find some players if you think it's so good.
"You've got plenty of other players playing in NRL teams, at the Cowboys and Broncos, who can form the bridge.
"You've got Josh McGuire and Ben Hunt and all these fellas. Throw them in there. Get all that in there instead of looking at 18-year-old kids to come and solve your problems. I find that ridiculous."
Gould wasn't alone in thinking it was best to give Walsh more NRL experience before putting him on the Origin stage - New Zealand Warriors coach Nathan Brown wasn't thrilled about the idea.
Debate erupts over Reece Walsh's State of Origin chances
Much like Gould, Brown was of the view Walsh deserved more time at NRL level to establish himself before being thrust into the pressure cooker of a must-win game two.
“It’s not in anyone’s best interests to put an 18-year-old kid in State of Origin that’s played five games of footy in the NRL and didn’t play last year because of Covid,” he said.
“I won’t make that decision. He might go out there and play well – I’m not saying he wouldn’t play well – but it’s certainly not in anyone’s best interests to have Reece at 18 in State of Origin, I don’t believe.”
If picked, Walsh would be the second-least experienced player to make their State of Origin debut, behind Ben Ikin, who debuted after just four appearances.
Meanwhile, Cameron Munster has escaped with another fine after he was charged for the second time in a week for kicking an NRL opponent.
The Melbourne and Queensland five-eighth was fined $1150 for kicking NSW forward Liam Martin in Wednesday night's State of Origin but has copped the same grade one contrary conduct charge for a separate incident on Sunday.
His fine increases to $1700 for kicking Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in Sunday's 42-16 victory in Gosford.
It puts the Maroons star on thin ice with the match review committee over the coming weeks.
Should he be charged again he will automatically face a suspension having exhausted his two chances for monetary punishment.
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