Home Australia Walters puts faith in son of a gun as Broncos wait for the all-clear on star Walsh

Walters puts faith in son of a gun as Broncos wait for the all-clear on star Walsh

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Sailor Tristan

Brisbane coach Kevin Walters says he won’t push for Reece Walsh to return early as the back-row replacement prepares for a reunion of sorts in Melbourne.

Walsh suffered a facial fracture in the Broncos’ 34-12 NRL round three loss to Penrith.

The club subsequently said the representative full-back would miss between four and six weeks.

But Walsh did not require surgery and is a known fast healer and has been training at Red Hill with custom helmets.

Ahead of Thursday’s clash with the Storm in Melbourne, Walters would not commit to returning in round six against city rivals the Dolphins at least a week earlier than planned.

“When Reece is ready, he will play again – that’s not up to me, it’s up to our medical staff,” he said.

Instead, Tristan Sailor has made a case for retention, with the defender bringing a different package to the table at number one.

Tristan Sailor has kept the number one jersey in the absence of Reece Walsh with the Broncos.(AAP: Jono Searle)

“He’s a very good footballer and very intelligent,” Walters said.

“Unlike Reece, he brings a different mentality and was excellent defensively for us (against the Cowboys last week).

“Good teams need those players on their side.”

Sailor, son of Broncos legend Wendell, will renew an old rivalry with counterpart Ryan Papenhuyzen after the duo faced each other as juniors in Sydney.

“I’m the same age as Paps. We’ve moved forward together and we’ve faced each other in contact and football throughout the process,” Sailor said.

“At school, from under 15, he played for CIS (Combined Independent Schools) and I played for CCC (Combined Catholic Colleges). Even then you could see how good he was.

“It’s really good to see him bounce back from all the adversity he’s had. I’m really excited to see him again. He’s a live wire.”

Brisbane snapped a 14-match losing streak against the Storm in a 26-0 semi-final last year, but have not beaten the team in Melbourne in eight years.

Melbourne has won 40 of its 55 meetings, with one draw, since its creation in 1998.

“You have to say that we are traditional rivals because when the club was formed in 1998, it was started by John Ribot, Glenn Lazarus and Chris Johns, so it had that Broncos element from day one,” said the general manager of football. Storm, Frank Ponissi.

“Of course our coach Craig Bellamy came from the Broncos and for years and years we had a lot of Queensland players with the big three: Cameron (Smith), Cooper Cronk and Billy (Slater).

“Some of them grew up supporting the Broncos. Cameron Munster is another one now.”

Ben Te Kura, at 205cm, will become the NRL’s tallest player when he debuts for Brisbane, while Melbourne are set to welcome back key trio Christian Welch (concussion), Jahrome Hughes (suspension) and Munster ( groin).

Join Nick Campton tonight on abc.net.au/sport as ABC Sport live blogs all the action from the Storm v Broncos clash.


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