Rugby league great and Warriors consultant Phil Gould has slammed the Queensland Maroons over their "disgraceful" selection of teen star Reece Walsh.
Queensland stunned fans yesterday after naming the 18-year-old Warriors prodigy to start at fullback for Sunday’s must-win Origin II against New South Wales despite having just seven NRL games to his name.
Gould told Channel Nine’s 100% Footy Walsh was being “thrown to the wolves” by being selected.
"Look, I hope [Walsh] brains them," Gould said.
"We wish him well. No one at the club was denying him the opportunity if it came for him.
"But to bring him into a team that was beaten 50-6 in Game I, I think that is disgraceful by the Queensland selectors.
"To be asking an 18-year-old kid to come in and solve this problem is not fair."
Gould said he believes Walsh will develop into an exceptional Origin player for the Maroons but handing him his debut in such pressure-filled circumstances is wrong.
"Everyone [at the Warriors] is just worried about his well-being and whether or not it is the right thing to bring him into this particular Queensland team at the moment.
"Maybe back in the day when they had Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater and Johnathon Thurston and a tough forward pack and they were actually on a roll, it'd be a good time to bring him into camp and let him see Origin football from inside out and maybe after a year or so you give him a shot.
"But not this team."
Walsh will become the youngest Origin debutant in almost three decades when he starts at fullback for Queensland this weekend.
Warriors recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan reiterated to 1 NEWS the Warriors are proud of Walsh but also know Origin is a big ask after just seven NRL games.
“I sort of said, ‘I think he'll be a Queenslander for the next 10 or so years’ so I'd hate to see him thrown in a little bit too early,” O’Sullivan said.
“[It could hurt] the long-term project that he is.”
Walsh’s selection is partly due to injury issues the Maroons face for Sunday’s game, with fullbacks Kalyn Ponga and AJ Brimson both out injured.