NEWS Reece is the word: How Walsh mania is driving support for Broncos in heart of Sydney

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Reece Walsh had just enjoyed coffee with some of his Broncos teammates and was walking down the street in Parramatta on Friday morning when a busload of school girls spotted him.

The bus pulled over, the girls hopped off and chased Walsh back to the team hotel.

Never has there been such pandemonium for the Broncos this side of the NSW-Queensland border – and Walsh’s megastar profile is the key to it.

Fans gathered around the Broncos’ team bus more than an hour after full-time at Campbelltown a few weeks ago – many of them wearing Wests Tigers jumpers – just to get an autograph and a selfie with Brisbane’s stars.

And they lined the fence at the southern end of CommBank Stadium on Friday night, standing in the pouring rain, holding posters and chanting the names of Walsh, Jordan Riki, Pat Carrigan and Ezra Mam.

During the recent school holidays in Queensland, thousands of fans packed Red Hill to watch the Broncos train. It is not uncommon for parents living in remote Queensland towns to pull their kids out of school and drive for four to five hours each way to see the players.

The club has built a new steel fence at the back of the club, and employed security guards, just so the players can get to their cars without being mobbed by fans who are prepared to wait hours after any given training session.

Notes and phone numbers have been left on players’ windscreens.

Allan Langer is a Broncos legend, and while he believes good friend Wally Lewis is still the most popular Brisbane player of all time, he has never witnessed what is happening with rival fans in Sydney.

“It’s like they’re rock stars,” Langer said on Friday night. “We had a few fans in Sydney, but we were normally booed. The players have always been recognised, but not liked, and they’re well liked now. It’s the brand of football they’ve started to play. People love it.

“You saw it even at Campbelltown a few weeks ago. The reception Adam Reynolds received when he came off; they rose as one. He was amazed by it. The young guys, Reece, Patty, Jordan, they love them.

“For Reece, he’s only young; it [the attention] will be tough for him, but he’s taking it all in his stride.”

Walsh and the Broncos play with speed and are not afraid to take risks. All three tries in the first half against the Eels were long-range efforts, while a brilliant Walsh kick set up Selwyn Cobbo for a four-pointer in the second half.

During grand final week last year, ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys dubbed Walsh the “Justin Bieber of rugby league”, saying his profile was driving interest in the code, especially among girls and young women.

“My focus group is my 13-year-old daughter, and she’s got posters all over the wall of him, and she has no interest in rugby league whatsoever, even though I’m the chairman of the ARLC,” V’landys said at the time.

Walsh had 379,000 Instagram followers back then; more than every club except the Broncos. As of Saturday morning, Walsh’s following had ballooned to 458,000.

The NRL confirmed this week when it came to social media content, Walsh had accrued 6.8 million views this year alone. Footage of his long-range tries amassed 2.2 million views, “Reece Walsh lighting up the USA” had 1.9 million views, while Walsh finishing a long-range try against the Dolphins in round six had 1 million views.

One of the most watched videos on the NRL’s TikTok accounts is of Walsh and his daughter at last year’s preliminary final, which has had a whopping four million views.

Such is the buzz, the Broncos will close in on 58,000 members by the end of the weekend – and expect to reach 60,000 before the end of the season, almost double that of their nearest rival.

The club’s media team has struggled to produce in-house interviews with players because of the constant screeching from young fans in the background.

Carrigan laughed when told about the Walsh scenes involving the school bus in Parramatta, saying: “You’ve got good mail. I think the times are changing because of social media, so a lot of young fans are following the Broncos.

“It’s exciting. We also play an exciting brand of footy we’re working on, and young kids gravitate to that. We also know we need to stay level-headed. Kevvie [Walters] is doing a good job of that.”

Riki, with fans in the background chanting his name on Friday, said: “It’s a bit overwhelming. I have to pinch myself sometimes. I’m just a little Kiwi boy from New Zealand.

“It’s a bit crazy and full on, but it’s also really cool and I’m grateful. I’ve had a few people who want my signature on their hand, then they go away and get it tattooed.

“I’ve had a few people send me artwork and portraits of me, which I really love. I’ll also go down to the grocery store to get some milk and people will stop me. The support has been great.”

Sydney Morning Herald
 
Mustafur

Mustafur

State of Origin Captain
Contributor
Jun 13, 2019
9,134
13,333
alot might not of rated his game against Parra but he still did 2 try assists and a try in that game, if he didn't have the insane expectations on him you would think he is near MoM.

That said at the stadium he looked the clear best, in the stuff you don't see he was there every time, our best off the ball player by a country mile, basically covering Reynos role.
 
Canga

Canga

NYC Player
Sep 16, 2008
168
28
What's the delay in locking him up? Manager looking for more cash?
 
Ondi

Ondi

BRL Player
Apr 4, 2024
46
134
Apparently a bus load of girls ram raided his managers office and are now waiting for him to arrive to sign. You can't rush these things.
 
Big Del

Big Del

NRL Captain
Apr 22, 2017
4,396
5,221
Apparently there are problems in Newcastle. Kaylin's Dad has snitched to the NRL about some 3rd party sponsorship that wasn't paid . He may be looking for an out ?
 
mrslong

mrslong

International Rep
Mar 25, 2008
12,825
12,681
A lot of people seem to be mixing up his popularity with performance. It's just not the case, the guy could stand in the middle of the field and do the floss all game and the teen girls will still gush over it.
Nah. It's because he's hot AND electric. It's not just the girls that love Reece. Go down to any junior footy club in Brisbane and take a poll on who the kids favourite player is.

He did not have this fandom when he was at NZ and he was the same good looker.
 
Sproj

Sproj

Immortal
Senior Staff
Sep 6, 2013
51,682
62,645
Apparently there are problems in Newcastle. Kaylin's Dad has snitched to the NRL about some 3rd party sponsorship that wasn't paid . He may be looking for an out ?

That seems to be very misleading. If you read the article, it is very clear that this is not the responsibility of the Knights, if anything it is Ponga Sr's fault basedon inference from the article.
 
Big Del

Big Del

NRL Captain
Apr 22, 2017
4,396
5,221
That seems to be very misleading. If you read the article, it is very clear that this is not the responsibility of the Knights, if anything it is Ponga Sr's fault basedon inference from the article.

Micheal Caryanis seemed to think it was bigger than that .
And that there was some funny business going on .

I have listened to Caryanis on the ABC for a few years he seems to have his finger on the pulse . And is better informed than a lot of other journos .

I heard Gus say it`s no big deal . But Caryanis seemed to think more will be revealed . As ever time will tell ...
 
Battler

Battler

State of Origin Rep
Dec 4, 2013
6,598
6,229
Apparently there are problems in Newcastle. Kaylin's Dad has snitched to the NRL about some 3rd party sponsorship that wasn't paid . He may be looking for an out ?
The chooks don’t have any issues with TPAs not paying up
 
Foordy

Foordy

International Captain
Contributor
Mar 4, 2008
33,666
39,696
That seems to be very misleading. If you read the article, it is very clear that this is not the responsibility of the Knights, if anything it is Ponga Sr's fault basedon inference from the article.

The Fox sports article also says:

new information has since come to light which questions whether the deal was at arm’s length from the club”.

While the Courier Mail article says:

The deal involved " a business associate of one of the club’s most senior figures.'

----

So reading between the lines this could be a deal where all parties hid the true nature if their relationship from the NRL.

And since the sponsor hasn't paid Ponga, they are now blowing the whistle.

Also listening to Gould on 100% footy and it doesn't seem like the NRLs approval process is very stringent... More like using the honour system and answering a questionnaire.

Carayannis also said there is much more that will be revealed in the next 24 - 48 hours
 
M

mstreet

QCup Player
Sep 3, 2020
463
926
Remember when TPJ was pulling the same shit?! Wonder what happened there?
 
B

BRC088

QCup Player
Feb 7, 2012
656
562
Nah. It's because he's hot AND electric. It's not just the girls that love Reece. Go down to any junior footy club in Brisbane and take a poll on who the kids favourite player is.

He did not have this fandom when he was at NZ and he was the same good looker.

We've actually done that, and not to see if Reece was popular is was to build a player profile for our kids - we asked the same questions about their favourite team etc etc to. Reece is popular, but we found the kids favourite player tended to be more aligned to the position they played themselves. Adam and Patty polled well.
 
B

BRC088

QCup Player
Feb 7, 2012
656
562
Yep, he has a general demographic that doesn't go unnoticed around the club, lol. But as I said earlier, people were mixing popularity with performance (read the comments on the articles). Plenty of people criticising his error rate, when that's not what the article is about.
 
Dazza 92

Dazza 92

NRL Captain
Oct 13, 2014
3,010
3,737
This is sports in the 21st centruy now, particularly in the SM era.

I've seen ths develop over in the US for many years now.

Young fans follow players, not necessarily teams anymore.

Im sure that it partly explains the (at least to my old eyes) huge amount of Bronco jersey wearing fans at all the Sydney grounds we've played at this year.

Although, being successful....also really helps!
 
mitch222

mitch222

State of Origin Captain
Apr 4, 2014
8,281
7,866
Just remember when you have a media darling as the face of your club, you get the calls that come with it and rub of the green. This isn't a bad thing at all.
 

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