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Walsh learns lesson from Titans blow-up: Lockyer

Darren Lockyer says a maturing Reece Walsh is a wiser footballer and man almost 12 months on from being suspended for contrary conduct against Gold Coast.

Brisbane fullback Walsh returns from a week's absence with a knee injury to play the Titans at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, against the same side and at the identical venue where he had a running battle with referee Chris Butler in 2023 in a 18-12 loss in round 17.

Walsh launched an expletive during the match, which he said was aimed at his teammates, but the NRL judiciary handed the No.1 a three-match suspension which taught him a valuable lesson.

Since then he has not remonstrated with referees.

"He has calmed down," Broncos legend Lockyer said.

"I have always said, apart from Cameron Smith, not too many players can have an argument with the referee and have the decision overturned. There's no point getting frustrated by a decision.

"Just move on, and he is getting better at that. Definitely that episode last year, he has taken it on board and it's all a learning curve."

Walsh is a player who backs his skill. It is risk versus reward with him. So much of Brisbane's best football comes from his involvement.

With that comes errors and occasional rushes of blood to the head.

It is why coach Kevin Walters told him to take a "chill pill" after the 40-18 loss to Sydney Roosters where he overplayed his hand on several occasions.

"It's just time in the seat. You start to relax a bit more once you have been there a bit longer," Lockyer said.

"We talk about what Reece brings to the game and everyone loves what he brings. He brings entertainment, he brings spark and energy and sometimes the first thing he needs to focus on is his job for the team and not the other stuff.

"The points and entertainment will come if he does his job first and foremost. The rest will follow."

Walsh is more than adept at bringing off the big play and turning a game. Lockyer, a master of the art, said improvement in his ability to judge when the time is right would come.

"Playing with more composure comes with time and experience and Reece, we know what he can do with the footy, but it's getting better at knowing when to pull the trigger and when not to," Lockyer said.

"He will only get better with that in time."

Broncos coach Kevin Walters said Walsh had made great strides with his maturity.

"He's had to," Walters said.

"Reece is a popular player with the media but he's handled it well. I love his work ethic more than anything else."

In a positive sign for the Broncos the exuberant fullback was in fine fettle at the side's captain's run on Saturday.

"Reece is good to go," Walters said.

"There's lots of energy from him this morning which is a good sign. (The strapping on his left knee) is just for stability and to make him feel good about himself but he ran really freely today. He is bouncing around the place."

Walsh will be named at fullback for Queensland for the State of Origin series opener if he gets through Sunday's game unscathed.