No risk to Walsh from early return: Broncos’ Walters

Joel Gould |

Reece Walsh suffered a facial fracture against Penrith on March 21.
Reece Walsh suffered a facial fracture against Penrith on March 21.

Brisbane coach Kevin Walters insists the club have taken no risks with Reece Walsh’s wellbeing as the fullback returns a week earlier than expected from a facial fracture.

Walsh, who was tipped to miss four to six weeks, will return to tackle the Dolphins at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night – three weeks after sustaining the injury against Penrith.

Walsh will wear headgear for Friday’s clash, with Walters insisting: “There’s no risk. We want to keep his Hollywood career intact.

“He has been cleared by all of our medical staff to take the field.

“The headgear is just precautionary … it’s what he has to wear to play.

“It’s hard for any player to sit out and watch, particularly someone like Reece who lives and breathes rugby league.”

Brisbane Broncos fullback Reece Walsh (left) with Kevin Walters.
Walsh will wear headgear on his return against the Dolphins, coach Kevin Walters (right) says. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

The Broncos are without injured quartet Payne Haas (knee), Adam Reynolds (hamstring), Brendan Piakura (ankle) and Deine Mariner (back) but welcome back forward Xavier Willison on the bench after he completed concussion protocols.

“This year I’ve seen a lot of clubs go through this, so we’re not the only ones. A lot of players aren’t out there each weekend,” Walters said of the injury list.

“We are copping it, but we are adapting really well and coping really well. 

“We have played some of the better teams in the competition and we have come through it well.”

Second-rower Jordan Riki sprained an ankle at training on Tuesday but limped through the captain’s run on Thursday.

“Jordan will play, unless he pulls up sore (on Friday morning), ” Walters said.

The Broncos are not concerned about being able to keep strike centre Kotoni Staggs beyond 2025. 

The 25-year-old will become a free agent on November 1, with the Australia Test centre likely to be highly sought after. 

“Kotoni is very important and our intention is to keep him. It’s not in our sights at the moment,” Walters said.

“He is coming off contract at the end of 2025, so (recruitment boss) Simon Scanlan and (CEO) Dave Donaghy can look after that. 

“I will keep coaching Kotoni because he is a great fella to coach. 

“We are really seeing the maturity of Kotoni with a few troops down. He has played his best football.”