Warriors coach Nathan Brown hopes that Reece Walsh is not part of the State of Origin equation in 2021.
The teenager has been talked up as a possible Queensland bolter, with luminaries such as Wally Lewis and Billy Moore both nominating the 18-year-old as a contender for a utility spot, in light of injury concerns around Cameron Munster.
With a smaller talent pool than New South Wales, the Maroons have a history of surprise selections, with plenty of youngsters and players plucked from left field.
Walsh has seemingly unlimited potential but he has only played five NRL games and didn't take the field at all in 2020, after the development grades were canned due to Covid-19.
Brown understands the excitement around Walsh, especially after his virtuoso performance last Friday, but feels the interstate series would be too much, too soon.
"[That's] the great thing with Origin, it gets everyone talking about the game," said Brown. "Personally, I'd like to not see Reece Walsh play Origin at this time in his career. He's so young and he has only played a handful of games in the last two years."
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Brown respects the judgement of Lewis (38 Origin games) and Moore (17) – "they have achieved far more than me at that level, I wasn't good enough to get there" – but doesn't want Walsh rushed into the interstate arena.
"They certainly understand Origin a lot better than [me] because they been at the coalface," said Brown. "It's great they are talking about him and hopefully Reece continues to grow and develop with us and over time I'm sure those things will come his way."
However Brown admitted that time in the Queensland environment could only enhance his development, if the rookie was brought in as a training partner.
"If [coach] Paul Green saw Reece as a long-term Origin prospect then him going and spending time with Origin players and in particular Billy Slater, those things only benefit a player."
The Origin talk has added to the hype around Walsh, despite the Warriors doing their best to dampen it down. It's hard to stay grounded, especially with the rolling NRL coverage in Australia, but Brown is hopeful Walsh can.
"He's got a good playing group around him," said Brown. "Our most high-profile player, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, is also our most humble player so he's got some really good people around to help with that.
"We want him to be human, we also need him to be confident. He plays with a little bit of confidence and we don't want him to lose that either."
With his constant involvement from fullback, Walsh has added another dimension to the Warriors' playmaking equation, though Brown admitted it will take time to optimise the talents of Walsh, Tuivasa-Sheck and the halves.
According to Brown, the team's training intensity is continually improving, which they hope to transfer to the field against the Cowboys tomorrow night, as they address the lapses that have plagued many of their performances in 2021.
Ken Maumalo missed last week's game with a "slight calf strain" and Brown said his continued absence was due to a desire to not change a winning team, and also reward Marcelo Montoya.
The Warriors have yet to win back-to-back games this season, a statistic that will have to change if they want to be September contenders.
They edged the Cowboys 24-20 in early May but are unlikely to have the luxury of a massive halftime advantage (24-4) again, though Jason Taumalolo (suspended) is a significant loss for the home side.
"Both sides are playing a bit better than [four] weeks ago," said Brown. "So either team will have to play better than they did last time to get the money."