Brisbane fullback Reece Walsh teared up when asked about the role fatherhood and his young daughter Leila had played in his life as a footballer and a man.
- Reece Walsh says his two-year-old daughter has helped calm his often fiery persona
- The 21-year-old is a fan favourite in Brisbane, starring for both the Broncos and Maroons
- Brisbane faces the Warriors on Saturday night in the club’s third-ever home preliminary final
“She has been awesome for me. She calms me down,” the 21-year-old said ahead of Saturday night’s preliminary final clash with the Warriors.
“Not everything is about footy and a job. When I am in the [Broncos] facility, I am the footy player.
“When I step out and see my little one and my family, I am Dad.
“It is pretty awesome. I am still so young, but I feel if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be in this position. She is pretty awesome. I get emotional about it.”
The tribute was from the heart and pulled at the heartstrings of those interviewing Walsh ahead of the biggest game of his life so far against his former club.
Two-year-old Leila is never far from Walsh’s side.
Whether it be in the Broncos sheds or on the sideline when he was watching the round 27 clash with Melbourne while sitting the game out, she is there.
She was by his side at home when he watched the Warriors win their knockout final over Newcastle on Saturday.
The former Warrior had a great game in the 26-0 win qualifying final win over Melbourne, thanks largely to his daughter.
“Three or four days before the [Storm] game I was just stressing, and just having her around it brings everything back to reality,” Walsh said.
“I enjoy being a dad and she is the best girl in the world. She keeps me grounded too.”
Walsh is inundated by fans at every Broncos training session and after each game. It is Walshmania in Brisbane.
He wears his heart on his sleeve. That was evidenced when he got a three-week suspension for contrary conduct earlier in the season for having too much to say to referee Chris Butler and giving teammate Pat Carrigan a spray too.
Since then Walsh has seen a sports psychologist and he has been exemplary in his conduct. He’s showing he is just as quick a learner as he is across the turf.
“I want to be the best version of myself on and off the field and I want to be the best footy player I can be,” Walsh said.
“If I can [just] keep those things in check and stay disciplined and humble.
“I am lucky to have awesome people around me. When I am stepping out of line they pull me in line real quick. I just want to put my best foot forward with everything I do. If I can do those things, then I will be of value to this team.”
Join the ABC Sport team at abc.net.au/sport as we live blog all the action from the Panthers vs Storm match on Friday, and Broncos vs Warriors match on Saturday.
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