After a week of speculation about his teenage fullback, Warriors coach Nathan Brown has doubled down on a plea for patience with his State of Origin call up after a 10-6 loss to Newcastle.
In a dour NRL game at McDonald Jones Stadium, the young Maroons hopeful raised more questions than he answered with a mixed performance that reflected his boundless talent and limited experience.
In just his seventh NRL game the 18-year-old was auditioning for a place in Paul Green's Maroons side for their must-win Origin II clash next Sunday and could not be accused of not trying to land the job.
But in torrential conditions, Brown quipped not even Billy Slater could have handled the bombs the Knights put up for him.
Just days ago Brown's hesitance to back Walsh to be picked to make his Origin debut was labelled as 'strange' by Queensland legend Cameron Smith among other high profile ex-players, but on Saturday the Warriors coach hit back.
"A lot of people have given opinions on Reece that haven't been where he's been," Brown said.
"Six weeks ago, no one knew him ... he's gone from nothing to being a star.
"A lot of people giving opinions on Reece and commenting, when they played, their career slowly went ahead and they weren't playing at 18.
"These are the blokes who were the best players in the past, but their careers didn't start until they were 19, 20 and 21.
"Slowly over time they got some fame, whereas Reece has gone from 0-150 in a six-week block, so it's got to be difficult for any young kid at 18.
"He's a good young kid and he doesn't get carried away with himself, but I'm sure he'll look at some things from this week and think whether he could have done things differently."
A rough second half brought the teenager undone and he finished with four errors, two tackle-breaks and 171 running metres as the Knights harassed him under the high ball.
"He'll learn every week, and he's not the type of player who does similar things wrong. He's only young, but he does adapt and learn quick," Brown said.
"Billy Slater wouldn't catch them all out there tonight."
Conditions were horrendous in Saturday's contest but the Knights handled them better with a Brodie Jones try in the final four minutes deciding the result.
Euan Aitken scored a runaway try to get the Warriors in front and Newcastle trailed 6-4 at halftime despite the howling wind and being down to 12 men for the final seven minutes of the stanza.
Try-scorer Lachlan Fitzgibbon was controversially sin-binned for a high shot on Kodi Nikorima as the Warriors half fell to the turf.
"I gave the boys a rap at halftime, being resilient and hanging in there into the wind with Fitz off," said Knights coach Adam O'Brien.
"Some of our goal line defence is a lot better than it has been in a really long time."
They will have an anxious wait on the NRL's charge sheet, however, with Fitzgibbon, David Klemmer and Jacob Saifiti all put on report.
The Warriors will have similar concerns for Ben Murdoch Masila who was sin-binned in the 79th minute for a dangerous tackle on Hymel Hunt.
Australian Associated Press