Reece Walsh in massive update for Origin II as Peter V'landys smacks down 'ridiculous' calls

Some have called for changes to send-off rules in the wake of Walsh being knocked out of State of Origin I.

Kevin Walters has revealed Reece Walsh is recovering well from his head knock in State of Origin I, and said Billy Slater will "definitely' pick him for Game II. Walsh is on the mend after being knocked out by Joseph Suaalii in the seventh minute of State of Origin I, but won't play again until Origin II due to the NRL's 11-day stand-down period.

Questions have emerged about how the incident might affect Walsh mentally, and whether the 21-year-old will have enough footy in his legs before the second game of the series in Melbourne. But Broncos coach Walters revealed on Thursday that the fullback will be right to go.

Peter V'landys and Reece Walsh.
Peter V'landys has smacked down suggestions in the wake of Reece Walsh being knocked out in State of Origin I. Image: Getty

"Of course Billy will select him," Walters said. "I would say Reece's last seven minutes were enough in Origin I to suggest he will be there for Origin II. Reece is good. He is doing all the protocols with the HIAs and he will be fine to go for Origin.

"Unfortunately he is no good for us against Souths. He was medically ruled out. He was unavailable to play and I'm very comfortable with that. We care about our players at the Broncos and we want to do the right thing medically for them. He will be back for Billy in Origin."

Reece Walsh.
Reece Walsh suffered a heavy concussion in State of Origin I. Image: Getty

Leading NRL reporter Dean Ritchie questioned how Walsh will be affected by the Suaalii hit moving forward. “Is he gun shy?” Ritchie asked on NRL 360 on Wednesday night. “He’s been targeted a couple of times quite publicly, quite openly, physically and viciously. He’s been clouted around the melon a few times. Do you go out there with thoughts next game thinking, ‘I’m just a bit shy here'. The demons dance.”

But Braith Anasta said he didn't think it will be an issue. “I remember in Games I and II last year when (the Blues) targeted him and he absolutely embarrassed NSW,” Anasta said. “We said on this show (last year) that the Blues needed to target Recce Walsh because he could be a weakness and we saw the response then. The kid is all class and have you seen a more confident kid in your life?”

And Walters agrees, saying: "He won't be gun-shy. He is from Nerang. They are not gun-shy down there. Reece is as tough a player as you will ever see, so it's not about his toughness and being belted. It's about protecting him in a way that he should be protected on the field. He is a marquee player, not only for us but for the NRL, and to have him sitting on the sidelines for a period of time is not healthy for the game."

Walters said he was heartened to read comments from ARL boss Peter V'landys that protecting players from illegal hits to the head was paramount. The decision to send Suaalii off sparked widespread debate, with the likes of Andrew Johns and Paul Vautin disagreeing with the decision due to how it affected the spectacle of the showpiece event.

Many were of the belief that Suaalii should only have been sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes because the send-off effectively meant the result was put beyond doubt after just seven minutes. But ARL Commission chairman V'landys has torn those arguments to shreds, saying the game can't afford to be lenient on foul play that results in head injuries - even if they occur in State of Origin. In years gone past the rules in Origin were somewhat more relaxed compared to NRL level - but those days are well-and-truly over.

“What do people expect - a free-for-all in State of Origin? No, it’s not going to be,” V’landys told the Courier Mail on Wednesday. “We’re not going to have players like Reece Walsh taken out just because they are brilliant - we won’t tolerate that. All players should be protected, including Reece Walsh.

“Nobody should be targeted with illegal play and by all means we will do everything possible to protect Reece Walsh. Hits should stay within the rules, and if they are outside the rules, they will be penalised severely. The referee was 100 out of 100 in how he treated that incident."


Some have also suggested there should be a 20-minute sin-bin introduced (like in rugby union), while others have questioned whether sent-off players should be allowed to be replaced. But V'landys isn't having a bar of it.

“This is the ridiculous situation that some people are looking for,” he said. “This idea of replacing players sent off in Origin is nonsense. It just opens it up for players to be taken out ... you could take the best player out of the other team and you’re not affected. I don’t understand why a serious breach of the rules should be interpreted differently between an Origin and club game."

with AAP