Reece Walsh won't play again for three weeks in brutal twist for Queensland and Broncos

The Maroons fullback was knocked out of State of Origin I in just the seventh minute.

The NRL's 11-day stand-down policy and a bye for the Broncos in Round 16 means Reece Walsh won't be back on the field until State of Origin II at the earliest. Walsh was knocked out of Origin I on Wednesday night after a sickening hit from Joseph Suaalii in just the seventh minute.

Suaalii was sent straight from the field - becoming just the sixth player in Origin history to suffer the ugly fate. Suaalii's send-off is the fastest in Origin history after his debut for NSW only lasted seven minutes.

As for Walsh, the young fullback was ruled to have a Category 1 concussion and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Despite passing his Head Injury Assessment (HIA) in the dressing rooms, he wasn't allowed to return to the field because of the Category 1 ruling.

Reece Walsh with his daughter.
Reece Walsh with his daughter after Queensland's win in State of Origin I. Image: Getty

It comes with a brutal twist for the Brisbane Broncos, who won't get Walsh back on the field until Round 17 at the earliest. The Category 1 ruling automatically triggers an 11-day stand-down period in which a concussed player isn't allowed to play.

The Broncos' clash with the Sharks on Saturday (in Round 14) will be three days after Walsh's concussion, and their Round 15 match against the Rabbitohs will mark nine days. The Broncos then have the bye in Round 16 - meaning Walsh will miss at least three weeks of footy as a result - and won't play again until Origin II.

Reece Walsh, pictured here after being knocked out in State of Origin I.
Reece Walsh was immediately ruled out of State of Origin I after the hit. Image: Getty

Queensland coach Billy Slater will select his team for Game II after the completion of matches in Round 16, meaning Walsh will have hardly any footy under his belt if Slater picks him for the second game. If he is picked to play Game II there's no guarantee he'll back up for the Broncos in Round 17 just three days later, meaning Brisbane fans might have to wait until Round 18 to see him back in action for the NRL club.

In positive signs after the game, Walsh could be seen walking around and mingling with Maroons teammates and fans - including his young daughter. "(Reece) seems to be OK now. He didn't look too good on the field. But he seems to be OK in the sheds," Slater said in his press conference.


Suaalii's send-off completely ruined the Blues' chances of winning, and Queensland ran away with the opening game in a 38-10 thrashing. But Slater isn't getting carried away ahead of games in Melbourne and Brisbane.

"I thought we were so far off with our footy tonight. That's all to come," Slater said post-match. "I don't think we played the way we prepared. There is so much more for this footy team. That's exciting. That is not for now. Now is about the feeling they are getting in the dressing room."

Queensland veteran Ben Hunt added: "I think there needs to be more gears. We are going down to Melbourne and you wouldn't think someone would be sent off again. It is going to be a lot harder game.

"I still think we can be better in the middle. I thought we were a bit loose in the middle. I know they only scored 10 points but that is because they had 12 players. We need to be a lot better defensively."

Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans had a blinder, but he wasn't content with the win either. "We have got to enjoy this moment knowing there is more work to go and more improvement in us," he said. "I don't know if it counts for anything if you don't go out there and earn the next two wins. They are not going to give us anything. It is all about us. There is so much work to be done."

with AAP