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NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler warns Queensland Maroons rookie Reece Walsh of diving

NSW coach Brad Fittler has called out teen Queensland bolter Reece Walsh for taking dives in the NRL and warned the prodigious fullback against exercising those antics on his State of Origin debut.

Walsh appeared to feign injury during the Warriors’ recent clashes with the Cowboys and Knights, staying down on the back of very minor incidental contact to the head in hope of drawing penalties.

So Fittler has challenged the 18-year-old former Bronco to take notice of Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans’ proposed ‘gentlemen’s agreement’, a truce that emerged between Queensland and NSW ahead of the Origin opener.

Cherry-Evans motioned in a press conference for penalties not to be milked amid the ARLC’s crackdown on high contact. Despite that, referee Gerard Sutton kept his whistle in his pocket, meaning there wasn’t an opportunity to see if the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ would be taken seriously.

Fittler placed it back on the agenda ahead of Walsh’s introduction to the Origin furnace on Sunday.

“One thing he will be coming to grips with is this is another level. Obviously the interest around the game – and hopefully he’s read DCE’s ‘gentlemen’s agreement’,” Fittler told Nine News.

“He’s playing with the big boys now and that’s the way it should be in Origin.”

When prodded on diving being a bad look in rugby league, Fittler added: “It is, especially at this level. Going into the last game Daly Cherry-Evans, responsibly, came out and spoke about the ‘gentleman’s agreement’. We just hope that extends to this game, as well.”

So rare is Walsh’s meteoric rise to the Origin arena that he’s attracted more hype than anyone ahead of the Suncorp Stadium affair.

His magnificent running game, passing and reading of the play have seen him explode across the first seven appearances of his NRL career. He’s racked up four tries, tallied eight try assists and is averaging 130 metres per match.

Walsh has made such a striking impression on 2018 Dally M medallist and captain Roger Tuivasa-Scheck that the rugby-bound superstar has moved himself to a wing to give the youngster a shot at fullback.

Only Ben Ikin has made their Origin debut with fewer first-grade games beside their name, having earned a Maroons bench spot for the 1995 series opener under coach Paul Vautin after just four appearances for the Gold Coast Seagulls.

While Blues icons Phil Gould, Peter Sterling and Paul Gallen are among those who’ve questioned the selection of Walsh – Gould even labelled it “disgraceful” – Origin legends Wally Lewis, Cameron Smith and Steve Roach have all backed the call.

The selection of Walsh has come amid a rejig of Queensland’s backline, with Valentine Holmes replacing Xavier Coates on the left wing and Walsh being thrown the No.1 jumper.

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