NRL 2021: NZ Warriors' sensation Reece Walsh shortlisted for rookie of the year award, up against Sydney Roosters' Sam Walker

NZ Warriors youngster Reece Walsh's breakthrough campaign for the Kiwi club has seen him shortlisted for the Rugby League Players Association's rookie of the year award.

Walsh, 19, has been one of the bright lights in an otherwise disappointing season for the Warriors, as the Kiwi club missed out on finals football once again - finishing 12th in the regular season.

Initially intended to arrive at the Warriors in 2022 as Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's replacement, Walsh instead made the move from Brisbane Broncos in April, and hasn't looked back.

In 16 games for the Warriors this season, Walsh scored nine tries and assisted another 11, with his form resulting in a call up to Queensland's State of Origin side for game two of the 2021 series. 

However, injury on the eve of the game ensured that Walsh will have to wait to play State of Origin in the near future.

"So many of the Warriors' opportunities come off the back of Reece Walsh," former Australian Jillaroo Allana Ferguson told Channel Nine.

"[He's] such an exciting player and he'll get better with the support and the players that follow him.

"But the thing that just stands out to me is his competitiveness. He's got a bit of mongrel in him, which you need to play NRL, but particularly (in) his position.

"He goes above and beyond for his teammates and he's just, again, such an exciting footy player."

Walsh's competition for the award comes in the form of another former Broncos junior, Sydney Roosters halfback Sam Walker.

After joining the Roosters earlier this year, Walker has made 19 try assists in 21 games, having to assume a key role in his side's spine after a season ending injury to half Luke Keary, and the retirements of Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner.

No Warriors player has ever won the RLPA rookie of the year award since its inception in 2004 - when it was won by Sonny Bill Williams.

Walsh or Walker will be announced as the winner of the rookie of the year award next Sunday, with NRL players to vote to decide who will take the prize home.