Reece Walsh edges Kalyn Ponga as NRL players vote for best of 2023

The NRL players have voted on who have been the best performers of the season.

Reece Walsh celebrates and Kalyn Ponga watches on.
Reece Walsh (pictured left) has been voted the best fullback of 2023 from his teammates and rivals having edged out the likes of Kalyn Ponga (pictured right) and Dylan Edwards. (Getty Images)

Reece Walsh continues to win over the NRL world having been voted as the best fullback of 2023 from his teammates and rivals having edged out rivals such as Kalyn Ponga and Dylan Edwards. The Rugby League Players Association has released the team, voted by the players, on who they believe deserve to be in the 'Dream Team' of 2023.

A number of positions would have been close in the voting, but one of the hottest debates in the back-half of the season was who is the best fullback in the NRL. Walsh has been phenomenal throughout the whole season and has helped give the Broncos the X-factor and reach the preliminary final this week against the Warriors.

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However, Newcastle Knights fullback Ponga has been in some form. The Knights managed to make the NRL semi-finals off the back of his incredible form at fullback. At one stage, Sharks great Michael Ennis claimed Ponga may have edged out Walsh as the best current fullback in the game on form.

Walsh was selected as the Maroons fullback this year and performed a brilliant job in game I and II, before his suspension. And he has once again got the nod from his fellow players having been voted as the 'Dream Team' fullback.

Dally M favourite Shaun Johnson was also selected by his fellow players, which only adds more weight behind the probability of walking away with the individual prize after a stellar season with the Warriors.

There were some contentious calls, which some NRL fans debated. The Melbourne Storm might be in the preliminary final, but many fans felt Cameron Munster and Harry Grant have not lived-up to their own lofty expectations this year. Regardless, the players facing them have recognised their star power and named Munster and Grant at five-eighth and hooker, respectively.

The only player that is not selected and still alive in the NRL preliminary finals is Manly second-rower Haumole Olakau'atu. The Manly forward started the year out in amazing form and it has been recognised. The team reads:

Fullback: Reece Walsh

Wingers: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak & Brian To’o

Centres: Herbie Farnworth & Stephen Crichton

Five-Eighth: Cameron Munster

Halfback: Shaun Johnson

Props: Payne Haas & Addin Fonua-Blake

Hooker: Harry Grant

Second Rowers: Haumole Olakau’atu & Liam Martin

Lock: Patrick Carrigan

However, as per usual, many NRL fans enjoyed debating the positions.

Reece Walsh ready for Warriors clash

Walsh has been in sensational form this year and has elevated his status as a potential superstar of the game. So much so that NRL legend Billy Slater labelled Walsh has pinpointed Walsh in his first season at the Broncos as one of the reasons they have excelled.

Reece Walsh celebrating with the fans.
Reece Walsh (pictured) has been credited by the players as the best fullback in the 2023 season. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

This weekend, Walsh will take on his former club in the preliminary finals. But Walsh has admitted while he doesn't regret leaving the Warriors, they will always remain close to him for giving a young fullback a run.

"I don't regret it but it was hard to leave the Warriors. They gave me an opportunity in the NRL and as a kid all I wanted to do was play NRL," Walsh said. "They will always hold a soft spot in my heart. I made some really good relationships there on and off the field.

"It was a tough one leaving and looking back at it now, where the two clubs are, where Charnze is now and where I am, we wouldn't take it back for anything. I think it has worked out for both (clubs) pretty good."

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