‘We’ll be going after him’: Blues won’t back down after Queensland legends attack their Reece Walsh tactics

Blues enforcer Liam Martin has declared his team will “be going after” Reece Walsh in game two at the MCG, with the Panthers star not buying into suggestions from north of the border that NSW players targeted the livewire fullback in Sydney.

Walsh was ruled out of the game after just eight minutes when he was smashed high and late by Blues rookie Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii, who jammed in and hit the Queensland fullback after he’d passed the ball.

Walsh was concussed and Suaalii was banned for four matches, with Maroons coach Billy Slater biting his tongue after the game, only for other Queensland legends to accuse NSW of going after their attacking maestro.

It’s sparked a war of words from south of the border, with Blues coach Michael Maguire firing back on Monday as he warned the Maroons, “You’ve got to make sure that you don’t live in glass houses.”

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While the Maroons have warned their rivals to not go after Walsh, Martin says they’ll be adopting the same game plan to pressure the fullback and limit his time with the ball.

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Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii was sent off for this shot on Reece Walsh. NRL Photos / Brett Costello Credit: Supplied

“I treat it the exact same. It doesn’t change,” he said.

“He’s such a key for them, so we’ll be going after him. We’re not intentionally going there to get him. It’s part of the game. Nothing will change.

“It is a fine line because it’s a game of the barest margins. If someone falls and you clip them high, otherwise it would’ve been a good shot.

“You try to be physical, and while accidents happen, you try your best to not put yourself and others in those situations.”

Martin set the tone in the opening minutes in Sydney when he tackled Walsh in the air as he put in a clearing kick, but he’s adamant he would have done the same to anyone in that position.

“It was just kick pressure. You do it every game and I had an opportunity to get him,” he said, having also whacked Reuben Cotter and J’maine Hopgood in the series opener.

“I definitely wasn’t out there to hurt him or anything like that. It’s just footy and you try to be physical.”

The strong words from legends like Gorden Tallis, Kevin Walters and Johnathan Thurston after the game haven’t affected the Blues, with Martin quick to point out that the opposition will go after their best players.

“I try not to buy into it too much so I block out that noise,” he said, with Queensland bringing hit man Felise Kaufusi onto the bench.

“I’m sure they’re going after a few of our boys like we’re going after some of theirs. It’s just footy. You’re never there to intentionally hurt anyone or injure them.

“You hate seeing people like that, and after the game you just hope he (Walsh) pulled up all right.”

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Stephen Crichton is expecting plenty of traffic down his edge next week. Jonathan Ng Credit: News Corp Australia

Stephen Crichton will shift from the left to replace Suaalii in Melbourne, and he’s made it clear how he’ll handle Walsh having done a good job for Penrith against him in last year’s grand final.

“I’ve always played against Reece by being nice and aggressive and trying to limit his involvements as much as I can,” he said.

“I know that I’m not going to get it right every time because he’s an X-factor player with good footwork and speed.

“I’m not going to go out there and try to do it myself. I’ll stick with the boys around me and attack him as a team.”

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