NSW handed massive State of Origin boost as Queensland's plan for Reece Walsh revealed

A leading journalist from Queensland may have given away Billy Slater's tactical secrets.

Leading journalist Peter Badel has predicted Billy Slater will use Reece Walsh as an attacking weapon though the middle of the field in State of Origin 2 - rather than out wide on the edges. Walsh will make his return in Game 2 at the MCG on Wednesday night, in what will be his first game since being knocked out by Joseph Suaalii in just the eighth minute of the series opener.

Discussing Walsh's return on NRL 360, Queensland-based journalist Badel spilled the beans on Slater's game-plan for Game 1 - and predicted it would be exactly the same in Game 2. Badel said he watched the Maroons train in camp before Game 1, and noticed Walsh was sniffing around the ruck a lot more than we normally see.

Reece Walsh during the opening stages of State of Origin 1.
Reece Walsh was lurking around the middle of the filed in the opening stages of State of Origin 1. Image: Getty/Channel 9

At the Broncos, Walsh is often used on the back end of sweeping plays out wide, where he can either slice through gaps on the edges or set up his centres and wingers. But Badel reckons Slater's plan is to unleash Walsh through the middle of the field more, hoping he can take advantage of tiring forwards and find holes on the end of inside-passes.

“I was at Maroons training before Game 1 and one thing I noticed was that they were working on a lot of outside-inside balls,” Badel said. “They want to get Reece involved, lurking around the middle of the field.

"Now of course if you watch him for the Broncos he is often quite one-dimensional in the sense he comes in on back-line plays. His pace is extreme, but the pattern where he attacks to the edges, Billy Slater has another idea to get Walsh lurking around the middle of the field. Much to the same vain James Tedesco and Ryan Papenhuyzen (do). The outside-inside balls that are so destructive, that’s where he believes Reece Walsh can unleash his pace.”


While the incident with Suaalii did happen on the edge, footage from Game 1 shows that Walsh did spend the majority of his seven minutes on the field lurking around the ruck. With Badel seemingly giving away Slater's plan, it will be interesting to see if he sticks to it or has other plans for Walsh in Game 2.

Reece Walsh, pictured here in the middle of the field around the ruck in State of Origin 1.
Reece Walsh in the middle of the field around the ruck in State of Origin 1. Image: Channel 9

The Blues clearly had a plan to target Walsh in Game 1 - within the rules - and apply as much pressure on the young fullback as possible. Despite his brilliance with ball in hand, Walsh is prone to making errors.

And despite Suaalii's hit backfiring in Game 1, Liam Martin says the Blues won't be afraid to go after Walsh again at the MCG. "I treat it the exact same. It doesn't change," Martin said in NSW camp this week. "He's such a key for them so we'll be going after him. We're obviously not intentionally going there to hurt or injure him. It's part of the game. Nothing will change."

But Walsh reckons it won't phase him in the slightest. "If I had any doubts or was scared I wouldn't pull on the Queensland jersey," he said on Tuesday. "I know how much it means to the people of Queensland and past players. They need a team that is willing to put their body on the line and do whatever for their state. If I was scared or shy in any way I would pull myself out."