“You can be connected as one line, you can go up and jam him, you can have all the tactics you want, but if he’s getting the ball in the right spots and getting outside defenders … he’s making you pay.”
Walsh’s flair has brought out the best in his teammates, topping the competition for line break assists (37) and sitting third for try assists (25).
While he has led the league for errors (50), Hunt – who now coaches Souths Logan Magpies in the Queensland Cup – believed the Maroons star’s ability to adapt so quickly was a mindset rarely seen.
Five minutes after throwing an intercept for Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in the preliminary final, his decision to hold his pass fooled the Kiwi and put Herbie Farnworth over to score.
“I don’t think it’s common, if it was, there would be more Reece Walshes on the paddock. Fearless: in a way that sums him up,” Hunt said.
“He understands his capabilities, he knows his limitations, and he learns his lesson pretty quickly and isn’t afraid to chance his arm.
“With the pace and the fearlessness he plays his football, mistakes will be there, but he’s becoming mature enough now to adjust on the fly and pull it back when things are going awry.
“I don’t think you want to coach that out of him, you want him to take the game on. If anything, he’ll get his hands on the ball more often in different spots than he is and be more of a handful.”
Walsh proved against the Warriors that the grander the arena, the more he rose to the occasion. His six line break assists, four try assists and 146 running metres showed that.
And the youngster refused to be conservative, regardless of the threat Penrith posed.
“The team needs me to do my job, so there’s no point sitting back, biting my tongue. Those things are going to happen, it’s my job to chance my hand,” Walsh said.
“It’s just finding the right areas to do it. We don’t fear them, we know the brand of footy that we can play.”