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June 13, 2021

Coach’s brutally honest Origin warningPapenhuyzen hasn’t played since Magic Round. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

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Warriors coach Nathan Brown has slammed suggestions Reece Walsh should be rushed into the Maroons squad as they look to revamp their attack in the wake of their record-breaking loss in Game One.

The wunderkind has been a revelation in attack with four tries and seven assists since he made his debut on Anzac Day, prompting calls for him to be thrown into the deep end for Game Two at Suncorp Stadium.

However, Brown – who was reluctant to let him play NRL so soon – says an Origin debut would be a huge mistake.

“It’s not in anyone’s best interests to put an 18-year-old kid in State of Origin that’s played five games of footy in the NRL and didn’t play last year because of Covid,” he said.

“I won’t make that decision. He might go out there and play well – I’m not saying he wouldn’t play well – but it’s certainly not in anyone’s best interests to have Reece at 18 in State of Origin, I don’t believe.”

Walsh missed his side’s heavy defeat to the Storm on Sunday due to suspension, and he could return in a new position after halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita went down with a season-ending pec injury.

The teenage sensation could return in the No. 6 jersey which would push Kodi Nikorima to halfback, but Brown indicated Walsh could retain his spot at fullback with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck set to shift to the wing.

“We’ll sit down and have a look to see how the team will be next week,” he said.

“Sean O’Sullivan did a good job when he came in and he’s been doing a good job for Redcliffe in the Q-Cup. We’ve got Shaun who can be a direct replacement for Chanel.

“Reece was playing fullback and Roger was playing on the wing and that was working quite well for us so we’ll try to keep it as similar as possible without making too many changes.”

Brown also confirmed the Warriors were in the market to replace Tigers-bound winger Ken Maumalo, with reports linking Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to the club.

“We’re certainly putting our feelers out there,” he said.

“We’ve got a fair list of backs who aren’t playing at the moment. We’re certainly looking at players, and his name was thrown up.”

Return of Ryan

Storm coach Craig Bellamy says Ryan Papenhuyzen is a chance to make his return from a serious head knock in the Round 16 clash against the Roosters at the SCG.

The flying fullback hasn’t played since Magic Round when he was brutally knocked out by a Tyrell Fuimaono swinging arm that saw the Dragon sent from the field, regardless of the crackdown that was introduced that week.

Papenhuyzen had only just returned from a shoulder injury and has missed the past four matches as a result of ongoing concussion symptoms that cost him a State of Origin debut.

He only recently returned to training but has a long way to go before he’s allowed back on the field, with the Storm prepared to play it safe with their attacking maestro.

“I’m not quite sure when he’ll return to play, and I don’t think anyone has pencilled or inked anything in,” Bellamy said.

“But I think Paps might be looking at the Roosters game. Having said that, that will be up to how he’s feeling and what the specialists say.

“He was very doughy for two or three weeks after (the tackle). He started back into training now, and has been for a week or 10 days. He’s still not training with the team but he’s doing his own training.

“There’s been a marked improvement over the last week to his demeanour. He was down and it was affecting him, and he’d do a bit of training and he’d get a headache. But now he seems to have turned the corner.

“We just want to make sure he’s 100 per cent before he comes back, and we’re looking forward to having him back.”


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