Penrith Panthers players have poked fun at Reece Walsh and his run-in with a young fan before the NRL grand final, taking a dig at the Broncos fullback at a fan day on Tuesday. Walsh was filmed telling a Panthers fan "I'll take your mum's" after the fan said Moses Leota was going to "take his head off" in the grand final.
In a video uploaded to social media on Tuesday, Panthers players Leota and James Fisher-Harris appeared to mock Walsh in light of the incident. Fisher-Harris can be heard saying "your mum" before cracking up laughing. Another player says “Whose mum? Whose mum?”, before Leota says "your dad".
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Fisher-Harris has form in this kind of area, sparking criticism last year when he started a "we hate Parra" chant after the Panthers' grand final win over the Eels. He also declared "Parra are our sons", with the Panthers being labelled "arrogant" and "classless" for the way they celebrated.
While this year's comments appear pretty light-hearted in nature, they will come as another cruel blow for Walsh. The 21-year-old had a sensational season as the Broncos marched into the grand final, but was below his best in the decider.
The fullback was limping early in the match and wasn't able to have his usual influence, with just six runs for 32 metres in the first half. The 21-year-old knocked the ball on and was dragged into his in-goal after running sideways, while also giving the Panthers a seven-tackle set after kicking the ball dead.
He was better in the second half and produced two scintillating line-breaks, but was caught out of position in defence as Nathan Cleary scored the match-winning try to complete the Panthers' incredible comeback. Walsh was distraught after the match and couldn't summon up the strength to speak to reporters in the sheds. He also appeared to be in tears while holding his daughter at a Broncos fan day on Tuesday.
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ARL Commission Chairman V'landys took a dig at Walsh over the pre-match incident with the fan, telling 2GB radio: "He's still a very young man and needs a bit of maturity, there's no doubt about that. He's under a lot of pressure and he's under high expectation from everyone. He's a rock star, but he's got to do better than that."
Broncos coach Kevin Walters leapt to Walsh's defence, telling Triple M radio: "It's difficult for 'Walshy'. You either love him or hate him and most people thankfully love him.
"We're in a bit of foreign territory here in NSW. So there's going to be some people out there that are quite jealous of Reece and how he plays the game and his looks and all those things. That's something he's going to have to get on top of for the rest of his career. You can't take Nerang out of the Nerang boy."
Meanwhile, the Broncos are vowing to use their devastating loss as motivation for next year. "That 20 minutes at the start of the second half is the Broncos I know. We need to do that for 80," Walters said. "We are not there yet, but when we do we will win premierships. We are not far off. We are a lot closer now than we were 12 months ago.
"Once the dust settles, everyone in that room can be proud of where the club is now compared to where it was ... it is just remarkable. But we wanted to win the premiership this year, and that pisses us off."
Captain Adam Reynolds said the pain would drive Brisbane to go one better in 2024. "You never want to feel that way again so you can use that as motivation," he said. "We have got a good group of fellas in there that work hard every day and they want to get better every day."
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