NZ Warriors coach Nathan Brown has hailed captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who made the call to shift to the wing in order to accommodate teen sensation Reece Walsh in the starting side to face Wests Tigers.
Moved into the side to start at fullback on gameday, Walsh again showed why he's one of the Warriors' most hyped signings in recent memory - scoring one try and creating three more in a nail-biting 30-26 victory in Gosford.
The performance came after Walsh was forced to start on the bench against Manly Sea Eagles and Parramatta Eels, only to come on and catch the eye with two impressive individual displays in losing causes.
Named on Tuesday to start on the bench again, Brown hailed Tuivasa-Sheck's decision, who moved to the wing in order to see Walsh in the starting side in his preferred fullback position.
"The credit needs to go to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for coming to see me with Addin Fonua-Blake, saying we want to put the kid in the team and I'll happily go to the wing," Brown says.
"I was probably over-protective. I've been quite protective, as everyone knows, of the young bloke and if it wasn't for Roger he would have come off the bench.
"But they were pretty clear they wanted him out there and he did pretty well."
In his five games for the Warriors, the only time Walsh has had the same starting position in consecutive games has come when he's been on the bench.
But Brown says Walsh could well keep hold of the fullback spot, as the Warriors prepare to face North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville next Friday.
"Obviously next week we'd think he's going to start again and then we've got a bye, which is great. It's a bit of a break and [we'll] probably see where his body is.
"'Rog' plays very well out on the wing for us anyway and he gets himself involved in some different situations.
"But obviously Reece has a skill-set which a lot of 18-year-olds don't really have."
Walsh's showing against the Tigers on Friday will do nothing to quell the excitement around his future in a Warriors shirt, signed as the man to replace captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck when he switches to rugby union in 2022.
Speaking after the Warriors' win though, Brown made it clear that Walsh is still far from the finished article.
"He's a decent young kid and with all you characters giving him raps all the time, we've got to make sure we help keep him a bit grounded."
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