In demand Warriors fullback Reece Walsh has broken his silence on constant speculation surrounding his playing future, declaring he will return to New Zealand with the team in 2023.
The 19-year-old has been linked strongly with the Dolphins under the pretence he wants to remain in Queensland around family.
Get all the latest NRL news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!!
Walsh has instead confirmed his commitment to the Warriors and says he never considered reneging on the club that gifted him his NRL berth in 2021.
“I’m going to New Zealand next year. My manager and I haven’t even discussed other options because we’ve always known that is the case,” said Walsh.
MORE NRL NEWS
‘PROTECTED SPECIES?’: NRL record spine changes, bench rotation fuelling ‘faders’
‘WAS WORST ACT OF FOUL PLAY’: Kent blasts Gus, Freddy over send-off hypocrisy
‘CHEWED UP A LOT OF THEIR CAP’: Knights’ ‘off’ recruitment under fire
‘BUY OF THE YEAR’: Payten’s Cowboys rise down to one huge recruit
“When I first signed with the Warriors it was really before COVID hit, so I thought I was going to New Zealand straight away.
“It’s only because of COVID that we stayed in Australia for so long.”
Despite never having travelled across the ditch in his young life, Walsh plans to utilise the opportunity to mature.
“Going to NZ is always going to be a challenge and I’m looking at it like that,” he said.
“It’s a growth opportunity for sure.”
The young superstar has ignored constant talk surrounding his contract but decided to speak up to protect his teammates.
“At first I sort of laughed about it and would ask the boys, where do you think they get this information from because it definitely isn’t coming from me or my management or my family,” said Walsh.
“After a while it became too much, there were questions from my teammates.
“It’s got to the point where it’s worth addressing because it’s spiralling out of control.
“It’s not fair on my teammates or the club that they think I am wanting to go elsewhere. It’s not the case – we haven’t spoken to any other clubs, I have a contract in place which means I am 100% going to New Zealand next year.”
Walsh’s manager Nash Dawson denies even having any formal discussions with any of the clubs who have been widely linked to his star player.
“Reece is a great up and coming young player and all good young players will draw media attention, but that’s all it is, just media attention. There has been no discussions with other clubs regarding Reece leaving the Warriors,” said Dawson.
“Currently Reece is on contract, he’s happy and he’s just wanting to focus on playing the best football he can for the Warriors.”
Walsh does have a player option in his contract for 2024 with the Warriors, which would allow him to test the open market at the end of this season.
Dawson says they are in no rush to look beyond 2023.
“When the time is right, we’ll consider all options,” he said.