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Did TikTok give Penrith the blueprint on how to unsettle Reece Walsh?

Penrith deny they will try to unsettle Reece Walsh after he was caught reacting to a throwaway line from a young Panthers’ fan at an NRL function on Thursday.

Walsh responded to the teen supporter at the NRL grand final launch after he was alleged to have told the Broncos No.1 that prop Moses Leota “was going to take your head off”.

While the Panthers maintain they will not use the TikTok footage as ammunition to bait Walsh, it would not have gone unnoticed by Penrith fans, who will pack into Accor Stadium, where the 21-year-old has never played a big game in front of an opposition crowd.

Penrith playmaker Jarome Luai has also been involved in heated on-field altercations with Walsh, most notably during Origin II at Suncorp Stadium, after which both players were sent off.

However, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said the focus would remain on his team rather than trying to get a reaction out of one of the game’s biggest stars.

“We’re mainly focused on us playing well and playing the style of footy that suits us,” Cleary said. “If we can do that, then it will limit the opposition, it doesn’t matter who you play.

Broncos star Reece Walsh was involved in a spat with a teenager at a fan day in Sydney on Thursday (inset).

Broncos star Reece Walsh was involved in a spat with a teenager at a fan day in Sydney on Thursday (inset).Credit: Getty

“Reece isn’t the only player they’ve got. It doesn’t matter who you are, if your forward pack is not doing their job or laying the foundation, it’s hard. There are a lot of other guys before Reece that we need to worry about. They have strike all over the park. The main thing is we play well, and if we put our game on, then it limits not just Reece, but the rest of the team.”

ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys is a big fan of Walsh, but told 2GB that he “has got to do better than that” when it comes to controlling his emotions.

Broncos coach Kevin Walters was in no mood on Saturday to discuss the Walsh incident. Walters also said it would be impossible for Penrith to keep him quiet for the entire 80 minutes.

“It’s beautiful down here, everyone is loving him – he is a very popular rugby league player,” Walters said of Walsh. “We are trying to keep him grounded – that’s very hard – but we’ll just let his football do the talking now.

Reece Walsh and Jarome Luai were sent off after an altercation in Origin II this year.

Reece Walsh and Jarome Luai were sent off after an altercation in Origin II this year.Credit: Getty

“We have got through the hard part of the week for him. His best part is his playing, and that’s only 24 hours away. Like all the good players, Penrith are very good tactically, so they will come up with some plans.

“[But] it’s nearly impossible to eliminate all good players. They are going to have some sort of impact on the game, so it’s up to us more than anything Penrith do to bring Reece into the game and give him those opportunities that he provides.


“That’s why he is at the club, that’s why he has had such a good year, because teams have tried to shut him down, they may be effective in some space, but sooner or later he is going to do something.”

The Panthers were certainly relaxed when strolling around Accor Stadium on Saturday. A group of players, including Liam Martin, even stopped to watch a horse race on the phone.

The Panthers produced their best game of 2022 against Parramatta in last year’s decider and Walters was confident the Broncos could deliver their premium performance when it matters most.

“We can attack as good as anyone in the competition, but it will be our defence that wins it for us,” Walters said. “We haven’t been in this environment for a few years. Without being disrespectful, being at the Broncos, this is part of who you are; it’s in your make-up.

“I also like the fact that we haven’t played our best football yet. We will save it for the biggest stage. That is what excites me ... and how good this team can be. We will see that Sunday night.”

Watch the NRL grand final exclusive, live and free on Channel 9 and 9Now.

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