Phil Gould blasts Queensland over 'disgraceful' move for Origin II

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·Sports Reporter
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Phil Gould appeared on Channel 9's 100% Footy to criticise Queensland's selection of Reece Walsh.
NSW great Phil Gould has labelled Queensland's decision to select 18-year-old Reece Walsh for Origin II as 'disgraceful'. Picture: Channel 9

A week after taking Wally Lewis to task, NSW great Phil Gould has slammed Queensland selectors for selecting teenage NRL bolter Reece Walsh for State of Origin II.

Despite the 18-year-old having played just seven games since debuting for the New Zealand Warriors this year, the Maroons saw fit to call up the former Broncos junior in place of Xavier Coates.

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Valentine Holmes will shift to the wing to accomodate the teenage fullback.

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.

His criticism fell on deaf ears though, with Queensland adding Walsh in a bid to find a spark after a dispiriting 50-6 defeat in game one.

Walsh will be the second-least experienced player to debut for the Maroons after Ben Ikin, who was selected in 1995 during the Super League war after just four first-grade appearances.

Gould was still unconvinced it was wise to debut the young gun, labelling his selection 'disgraceful' and saying it was unfair to pin Queensland's hopes on a rookie.

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“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.

“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."

Queensland select Reece Walsh for State of Origin II

Walsh had to be convinced it wasn't one of his friends "geeing him up" when Paul Green called to say he'd be playing for Queensland on Sunday.

Green had seen enough from the teenager though, who has made the most of an early move the New Zealand Warriors after initially signing for the 2022 season.

"They're good calls to make, they think you're geeing them up and that it's a mate ringing them,'" Green said of the conversation with a shocked Walsh.

"It's a great opportunity, a great story.

Reece Walsh will debut for Queensland in Origin II despite having played only seven NRL matches to date. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Reece Walsh will debut for Queensland in Origin II despite having played only seven NRL matches to date. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

"He's passed every test he's had to go through so far ... good players in the past have come up at that level, particularly around Origin.

"He's showed he's got the confidence, he's not afraid to back himself and good players, a trait is that if they make a mistake they can get themselves back in the game quickly and he's been able to do that."

North Queensland forward Francis Molo is the other debutant, named on a power-packed bench that includes Moeaki Fotuaika and David Fifita for the must-win game.

Cronulla winger Ronaldo Mulitalo is part of the extended squad for the first time as 19th man, with Coen Hess named 18th man.

With AAP

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