Rugby league: Warriors boss Cameron George backs Reece Walsh after cocaine arrest
26th September 2021

The Warriors are adamant that Reece Walsh can “rebuild his reputation”, in the wake of being caught in possession of cocaine in Surfers Paradise in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Walsh was arrested after failing to comply with a “move on” directive from police, before being searched at Surfers Paradise police station, where a small bag of the illicit drug was found.

The club said Walsh would face penalties and sanctions, pending the outcome of an investigation by the NRL integrity unit, as well as his court appearance, scheduled for mid-October.

However, Warriors chief executive Cameron George is confident Walsh can turn the corner, despite the gravity of the incident.

“I have no doubt how genuine Reece is in regards to this mistake, I’ve been with him for hours,” said George. “We are both committed to making sure this is a one-off mistake and he is going to come out of this bigger and better with our support.

“That is not withstanding the sanctions that will be coming, there will definitely be penalties applied. But this kid will bounce out of this, he will rebuild his reputation, he will rebuild his on field performance.”

Walsh has blazed like a comet across the NRL this year, quickly becoming a fan favourite and selected for the Queensland Origin team after a handful of appearances.

All that came crashing down on Sunday, with Walsh fronting the media just after 5:30pm.

“I got myself into a bit of trouble,” said Walsh.

“I was told by some officers to move on and I didn’t move on and that led to me getting arrested.

“Once I got back to the station I got searched and I was in possession of a small bag of cocaine which I had some of during the night.

“No one else is involved in this. It’s solely on me. I am putting my hand up. I should never have done it and it’s a mistake that I have made and I am aware of that. I’m really remorseful. I just want to say sorry to the sponsors, the fans, the Warriors.”

Walsh spoke for 60 seconds, before choking up, overcome with emotion.

George said he was alerted to the incident at about 7am on Sunday, and was already meeting with Walsh “well before 8am”, before convening with coach Nathan Brown, recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan and Walsh’s manager Nash Dawson. The teenager later apologised to the entire playing group and staff.

George said Walsh had no previous issues with drugs.

“It’s a one off,” said George. “It’s a stupid decision made by an inexperienced person. We are confident through our discussion with Reece that he doesn’t have a problem, in a lot of ways we are in the preventative phase.

“The kid made a huge mistake and one of the most positive things we can do is put support around him and allow him access to the proper counselling to ensure he becomes further aware of what’s critical in his career and his life and that is certainly not drugs.”

Long-time manager Dawson said his player was incredibly contrite.

“Hopefully he can work on mending [his] reputation with the fans, the club, the sponsors, the owners, everybody,” said Dawson. “It’s not who he is, it’s not who he wants to be, it’s a mistake he made and he wants to move on.”

George said Walsh will start drug and alcohol counselling this week and wouldn’t be attending the Dally M Awards tonight.

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