Reece Walsh looks set to be a Brisbane Bronco once again.
The star Warriors fullback has been given permission to enter contract discussions with the Broncos – and only the Broncos – as he looks to end his time with the Warriors early.
The Courier Mail is reporting it's a done deal with Walsh reportedly set to sign a three year contract with his former club.
In May, Walsh said he was '100 per cent going to New Zealand next year' but his circumstances have changed according to the Warriors.
After vehemently denying his desire for an early exit from the club, a change in personal circumstances has seen those words come back to haunt the 19-year-old, who wants to remain in Australia to be close to his family.
The Warriors, who have already seen Euan Aitken and Matt Lodge cut their time short with the club for similar reasons, are accommodating Walsh's request – but have only given he and his agent permission to speak to one club.
"We didn't want to turn this into a position where he was looking at clubs outside of that region where is family was. On those understandings, we've kept it very streamlined," Warriors chief executive Cameron George said.
"At this point we haven't officially released him. We've given him permission to speak to the Brisbane Broncos on those conditions. We'll wait for confirmation from his agent; we'll leave it for him and Reece and that club to deal with, then we'll address the formalities."
George said Walsh and his agent came to the club a little more than a month ago to explain the young fullback's change in circumstances. The club told Walsh and his team that they would not be entertaining any form of release until they had confirmed the signing of "an option equal if not better to what Reece brings" at fullback.
On Wednesday morning, the club confirmed their signing of Canberra Raiders star Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad – a Warriors junior who made his first-grade debut with the club in 2017 – who is departing the Raiders to return to New Zealand to be closer to his family.
Much like the Warriors' deal with Walsh, George said the Warriors had been the only club the Raiders gave Nicoll-Klokstad permission to discuss signing with if he was to be granted a release from his contract.
"Canberra have been fantastic in their approach to the situation. Equally for Charnze, his family is in New Zealand. He was permitted to talk to us only on the basis of rejoining his family, and that's the similar approach we've taken with Reece.
"It was only in the last 48 to 72 hours that we gave Reece's agent official permission to negotiate with another club – that being Brisbane."
Walsh has made 30 appearances for the Warriors since his debut last year but he missed Sunday's homecoming after failing a Covid test. A move to Brisbane would see him return to the club he played for as a junior as he was granted an early release from the Broncos in April 2021 after originally agreeing to join the Warriors from 2022.
' I am 100 per cent going to New Zealand next year'
In May, Walsh spoke out on the rumours about his future.
"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," he said.
"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 per cent going to New Zealand next year."
The Warriors viewed Walsh as their long-term replacement for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck who quit league for rugby last season.
The 26-year-old Nicoll-Klokstad has signed a three-year contract to bring him back to his original NRL club after spending the past four seasons with the Raiders.
"Having Charnze back with the Vodafone Warriors is going to be tremendous for us as a club and also for him personally," said George.
"He brings undoubted qualities as one of the best fullbacks in the game as well as so much off the field as a wonderful young man.
"He's so excited about coming back to the Vodafone Warriors, being home and being closer to his family."
Nicoll-Klokstad made his NRL debut with the Warriors in their 14-13 ninth-round
win over the Sydney Roosters at Mount Smart Stadium in 2017. He went on to score seven
tries in seven appearances in his rookie season but he didn't add to his tally in 2018 before leaving to link up with the Raiders in 2019.
In four seasons there he has scored 23 tries in 66 matches while averaging 158 metres a
game. As well as playing for the Cook Islands he played three Tests for the Kiwis in 2019
and represented the Māori All Stars in 2021.
Of Cook Islands, Māori and Norwegian descent, Nicoll-Klokstad played his junior football in Auckland before moving to Melbourne where he joined the Alatona Roosters.
Signed by the Storm he played for the club in the under-20 National Youth Competition in
2014 and 2015 before linking with the Warriors. He was a regular for club's New South Wales Cup side playing all 24 matches in 2016 and being named the Warriors' NSW player of the year. In his NRL rookie season in 2017, Nicoll-Klokstad won the Warriors' clubman of the year accolade.
His first season with the Raiders was a breakout year in which he scored 11 tries and
appeared in the grand final, making a game-high 237 metres in his side's 8-14 loss to the Sydney Roosters.