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.
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.
Munster I agree but Grant has been the best hooker by a country mile.. Nobody is even close lol.
— ⚡️ 99 12 17 20 ⚡️ (@CJB_1188) September 19, 2023
Ok, who’s been a better five-eight over the course of the entire season then
— X-Calibur (@X_Calibur101) September 19, 2023
Can't really argue with the players. But I'm extremely surprised to see Munster there
— Matthew Whitney (@Mwhitney92) September 19, 2023
Superb team 👏🏾 Munster is the best 6 in the comp but lucky to win the award based on club form this season 🙏🏾
— PLAYER OF THE MATCH ™️ (@MotMaward) September 19, 2023
Not a bad 13 👏🏾👏🏾
— Steve Morgan (@steve_morgs) September 19, 2023
How dom young isn't one of the wingers is crazy
— Mr Armageddon (@Mr_Armageddon1) September 19, 2023
The only change I would make is Fifita for Olakau'atu. But other than this, great side.
— Pikey (@pikey14) September 19, 2023
I disagree with
F/B - Reece Walsh
Backrow - Martin/Capewell
Coach - Andrew Webster
— Con (@ConPaffas) September 18, 2023
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.
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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