Reece Walsh may only be six games into his NRL career, but there are already calls for the talented rugby league youngster to be drafted into Queensland's State of Origin squad.
The Maroons are desperate, having been humiliated by New South Wales in Game I last week.
At just 18, Walsh is young in years but his skill-set is that of a superstar; something that has excited his club - the New Zealand Warriors.
But coach Nathan Brown is apprehensive about Walsh's quick ascension to representative football, believing it's not in the best interests of the teenager.
"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."
But Queensland great Cameron Smith has hit-out at the Warriors, questioning Brown's stance.
Speaking to SEN Australia, Smith says the club should be ecstatic about their young star's rapid rise to fame.
"That’s the Warriors being protective of their player," he said.
"They don’t want to see a possible injury to Reece or maybe even him going into Game II and not performing or getting a result that Queensland are after, and then thinking he will have some sort of long-term issues from that.
"How can you hold someone back from playing representative football? I just don’t know how you can do that. I’m only talking from what I’ve seen in my career.
"Craig Bellamy as coach and the organisation as a whole in Melbourne - any time somebody got an opportunity to further their career and particularly represent in Origin or for their particular nation, it was welcomed.
"You’re almost pushed to take that next step - that’s what you are looking to do in life, aren't we?
"We’re looking to challenge ourselves and be better in life and look for greater success.
"It’s a strange call from the Warriors. We’ve seen with our own eyes how Reece Walsh has performed at NRL level.
"If you can do that at NRL level, I can’t see why you can’t be asked to make the next step up to play Origin."
Fox Sports reports Walsh is at best an outside chance to Paul Green's 17 for Game II, but he could be included as 18th man.
Walsh returns to the Warriors squad this weekend against the Newastle Knights after missing last weeekend's thumping against the Storm through suspension.
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