Maroons No.1 Walsh won’t carry demons at MCG: Slater

Joel Gould |

Queensland No.1 Reece Walsh (left) has the full backing of Billy Slater (right) to fire at the MCG.
Queensland No.1 Reece Walsh (left) has the full backing of Billy Slater (right) to fire at the MCG.

There will be no lingering demons with Queensland fullback Reece Walsh from his game one concussion at the MCG on on Wednesday night, coach Billy Slater insists.

The 21-year-old has not played a game since he was knocked out of the State of Origin series opener by a high shot from NSW centre Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii in the seventh minute of the Maroon’ 38-10 win,

Walsh has been energetic at training and has vowed not to be gun shy in the way he attacks his game in Melbourne.

Slater was having none of any suggestion that Walsh would carry demons into the match when he spoke at Melbourne’s Fed Square in a pre-game press conference.

“That’s the first time I have thought about demons and Reece Walsh. He has been incredible all week, he was incredible in his preparation for game one and he started well in game one and I expect no different,” Slater said.

“I love the way that he plays, I love the attributes he has in his game and I love the way he works hard to go after it. It’s been a pleasure to help him do that this week and get his game on.”

Walsh was the last man off the training field on Thursday in Maroons camp at Sanctuary Cove. He was fine-tuning his kicking and doing extras on aspects of his running game.

Reece Walsh
Reece Walsh has left no stone unturned in his buildup to Origin II. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

“Everyone sees the bright and shiny stuff that Reece brings to a footy field and people gravitate to our game for that, but he is a really hard worker and wants to be as good as he possibly can,” Slater said.

“He wants to play our game and how good is that? I have a lot of time for him and really looking forward to him playing his part in our team.” 

Slater was asked whether he suspected the Blues would employ the same tactics as they did in game one with Walsh where he was tackled in the air while catching a bomb and roughed up on the ground, on both occasions by NSW forward Liam Martin, before being knocked out cold by Suaalii.

“That’s not a question for me I don’t think,” he quipped.

NSW coach Michael Maguire was quizzed directly whether the Blues would go after Walsh again as they did in game one.

It was clearly a question that he knew was coming.

“We have put a lot of focus on all of their players. It is not any individual,” Maguire said.