'Playing with him': Phil Gould slammed over Reece Walsh remarks

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·Sports Reporter
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Phil Gould is being criticised for comments about Queensland's Reece Walsh.
Phil Gould has faced fierce criticism over his comments regarding teenage Queensland debutant Reece Walsh. Pictures: Getty Images

NSW Blues great Phil Gould has been accused of playing 'mind games' with teenage State of Origin debutant Reece Walsh after the 18-year-old was picked for the Maroons earlier this week.

Walsh has become one of the breakout stars of the 2021 NRL season thanks to his sensational play at fullback for the New Zealand Warriors.

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Poaching the 18-year-old former Brisbane Broncos junior has been a masterstroke for the Warriors, with Walsh earning Origin selection after just seven NRL games.

Walsh will become the youngest player to make his State of Origin debut since Ben Ikin, but Gould has gone on record in the last two weeks arguing against Walsh's selection.

He argued it was unfair on Walsh to expect him to come in and solve Queensland's problems after their horror 50-6 defeat in game one.

“To bring him into a team that was beaten 50-6 in game one I think is a disgraceful decision by the Queensland selectors,” Gould said. 

“To be asking an 18-year-old to come in and solve this problem is not fair on the kid.”

However Gould, who is employed by the Warriors as a consultant, faced criticism over his stance during a panel discussion on Fox Sports program NRL 360.

Paul Crawley called Gould out over his remarks, despite acknowledging Warriors coach Nathan Brown had reservations of his own about Walsh's Origin call-up.

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“Nathan Brown made a really good point,” Crawley said.

“He said he didn’t agree with Reece Walsh being put up as a contender, but sometimes there is a difference between having an opinion and making a decision.

“Paul Green had to make a decision. This was his best option. This is Queensland’s best option.

“If Gus was supporting the kid he wouldn’t be playing with his mind… Someone who works at the Warriors has put questions in his mind so when he’s doing his press conference today journos are asking him about it.

“That’s playing with his head.”

Phil Gould hesitant over Reece Walsh Origin selection

Gould had earlier taken Queensland great Wally Lewis to task for advocating for Walsh to join the Queensland side.

Lewis suggested Queensland select Walsh last week, with the Maroons legend declaring, 'if you're good enough, you're old enough'.

However Gould took issue with his Queensland counterpart, dismissing talk of selecting Walsh as 'ridiculous' and adding the Maroons would be better served by the likes of Josh McGuire or Ben Hunt.

“We wish him well. No one at the Warriors club was denying him the opportunity if it came for him. Everyone was just worried about his wellbeing and whether or not it was the right thing to bring him into a team, particularly this Queensland team at the moment,” Gould said on Channel 9.

NSW great Phil Gould has labelled Queensland's decision to select 18-year-old Reece Walsh for Origin II as 'disgraceful'. Picture: Channel 9
NSW great Phil Gould has labelled Queensland's decision to select 18-year-old Reece Walsh for Origin II as 'disgraceful'. Picture: Channel 9

“Maybe back in the day when they had Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater and Johnathon Thurston and a tough forward pack and they were actually on a roll, it’d be a good time to bring him into camp and let him see Origin football from the inside out and maybe after a year or so give him a blooding into the Origin side.

“But to bring him into a team that was beaten 50-6 in Game One I think is a disgraceful decision by the Queensland selectors. To be asking an 18-year-old to come in and solve this problem is not fair on the kid.

"I hope the kid goes really well, I'm cheering for him and I want him to go outstanding and if he does, it still won't justify what they've done."

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