‘Too much to lose’: Wally Lewis urges Reece Walsh not to rush back from concussion


Wally Lewis has urged Reece Walsh to follow the experts’ concussion protocols because there is “too much to lose” by returning to the field too early.

Rugby league Immortal Lewis has been open about his memory problems as he lives with the probability that he has chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of too many head knocks during a glittering career.

The Queensland and Kangaroos legend, known as the “King”, said he had been jolted by the sight of Walsh laid out in the middle of Accor Stadium after being knocked out by Joseph Suaalii in Origin I on Wednesday night.

Walsh has been stood down from playing for 11 days under the NRL’s concussion protocols, which means he will not run out again before Origin II in Melbourne on June 26.

The fullback’s recovery will become a topic of intense interest in the countdown to the second match of the series at the MCG. It remains to be seen whether Walsh will be able to fully train when the Maroons go into camp.

Queensland’s thumping victory in the opener, and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s match-winning performance deputising for Walsh at fullback, means coach Billy Slater can afford to take a conservative approach with his first-choice No.1, leaving him out of the squad to give him time to fully recover.

The Roosters have always erred on the side of caution with players returning from a concussion, often delaying comebacks rather than rushing them back after the 11-day period has elapsed.

While at pains not to second guess the experts entrusted with Walsh’s recovery, Lewis said he was glad the decision on when to return was no longer left to the player.

“I don’t think anyone enjoys guys getting knocked rotten,” Lewis said. “It’s not an enjoyable part of footy, and it wasn’t a good scene the other night

“I’m sure the intentions [from Suaalii] were originally to make the tackle as painful as possible, but not hitting him in the head. Tackles go wrong.

“As a former player, you don’t want to wait around, you want to come back the next week. You don’t want to sit on the sideline or be considered a wimp if you don’t come back in a few weeks.

“But there are too many long-term dangers to put up with now. You need to accept the decision from the doctors and medical staff.

“I’m sure Reece will want to get back as soon as possible. The doctors will be exercising their professional prowess and making sure there won’t be an early comeback. There’s too much to lose.”

Walsh passed his concussion assessment in the sheds before half-time, but the symptoms he displayed on the ground – including convulsing and his eyes rolling back in his head – automatically activated the stand-down rule.

Even though Walsh is available for Origin II, Brisbane fans will need to wait until at least round 18, a Friday night game against premiers Penrith, to see him in action. The one thing in his favour is Maroons doctor Matt Hislop works with Walsh at the Broncos each week.

Sports physiotherapist Brien Seeney, better known as “NRL Physio” on X, formerly known as Twitter, said giving Walsh extra time would help his brain recover. He also said the confronting sight of Walsh unconscious on the turf was not necessarily evidence of a more severe concussion.

“There’s a risk of coming back too soon with every concussion, but it should be known the brutality or the appearance of the concussion in the early stages has no bearing on the overall severity of the concussion,” Seeney told this masthead.

“If Reece Walsh looked horrible the other night when it happened, it’s quite significant, but it doesn’t automatically make that concussion something we should be more conservative about, compared with every other concussion.

“All concussions are different but should be treated with the same level of care. There’s no knowing how he will deal with it until he is in [the recovery period].”

Sydney Morning Herald
Mr Fourex

Mr Fourex

State of Origin Captain
Apr 9, 2012
You can't wrap him in cotton wool.

I hope he's right to play. He appeared to bounce back pretty well on the night, from what I could tell.
Obviously he needs to follow the necessary precautions but otherwise.....

set the bird free.


International Rep
Forum Staff
Sep 28, 2012
You can't wrap him in cotton wool.

I hope he's right to play. He appeared to bounce back pretty well on the night, from what I could tell.
Obviously he needs to follow the necessary precautions but otherwise.....

set the bird free.

He's still young is probably why he's recovered quickly

Agreed you can't protect him forever

It's a tough situation because everyone wants him out there but we also don't want him hurt like that again anytime soon


BRL Player
Apr 4, 2024
I got caught up reading the comments after the injury and was so infuriated at people saying "soft", great tackle, he deserved that and he was feigning injury!! (FFS) that I was angry for days. Lesson learned though. Stay away from origin article comment sections. I'm glad his return is out of his hands. Can't wait to see him in action again with my heart in my mouth when he gets tackled next.
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