Reece Walsh has reminded the NRL world why he is one of the most exciting players in the competition after producing a masterclass against South Sydney on Friday. In his first game back from a three-match suspension, the Brisbane Broncos fullback had a try, an assist, four tackle breaks, two line breaks and two line break assists while running for 208 metres in his side's 36-20 win.
Walsh help set up two tries in the first half at Sunshine Coast Stadium with some passing wizardry, and then stamped his authority after the break to put the Broncos ahead for good with a scintillating 40m run to the try-line. The Rabbitohs led 14-12 at the break, but Walsh gave his side the lead not long after with a piece of individual brilliance.
He sliced through the Rabbitohs' defensive line, with Cody Walker appearing to play for an obstruction call when he clattered into Patrick Carrigan. Walsh then ran straight past Souths fullback Blake Taaffe and under the posts before touching down and producing a celebratory backflip.
Broncos coach Kevin Walters was blown away by the 21-year-old's return after a three-week suspension, which saw him miss State of Origin III for abusing a referee. "The message this week, particularly because he'd missed the last three, was, 'Play with what your great assets are'," Walters said.
"That's his running game first up, and then pass after that … but he managed to find both on a couple of occasions. So he is a bit ahead of even the coaching staff."
The Broncos are now on 32 points and sitting atop the NRL ladder - at least until Penrith host Canterbury on Sunday. The Rabbitohs are eighth on 24 points, but are no certainties of playing finals footy if they can't improve.
They have now lost six of their last eight games and have fallen off a cliff defensively. Constant errors with the football and a lack of discipline without it are haunting the Rabbitohs.
"Bitterly disappointed," Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou said of his side's performance. "I don't think we were up for the physicality. It was pretty embarrassing by the end.
“Our execution, our attack was poor. That led to a lot of errors, brought some fatigue into the game... But really disappointed with that last 30 minutes. I don’t think we came to the game with a defensive, physical side to us and that generally leads to trying to play loose, trying to score every time we touch the ball and not respecting that."
NRL world in awe of Reece Walsh masterclass
Walsh spiralled a pass for a Kotoni Staggs try in the first half and then sent winger Selwyn Cobbo over with a sensational cut-out ball. He then broke the game wide open with his try in the second stanza, which appeared to break the Rabbitohs' spirit.
The Broncos scored three-straight tries to put the game to bed, with the Rabbitohs unable to capitalise on the fact Brisbane had two players sin-binned throughout the game. NRL fans and commentators were full of praise for Walsh's performance after three weeks on the sidelines.
Reece Walsh is the best fullback in the game, he’s actually insane 😮💨
— Sunset 50 (@ImagineSunset) July 21, 2023
Whoever convinced Adam Reynolds and Reece Walsh to sign with the Broncos deserve the biggest props, those two have completely changed our trajectory. Amazing players, love them both to pieces man
— 🌟 (@JBroncosEra) July 21, 2023
He is a talent 🌟🌟🌟🌟
— Femme (@Zkuy8888) July 21, 2023
— A Anderz (@ashleighand84) July 21, 2023
— Martin Regan (@welshregan) July 21, 2023
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