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Niu’s challenge as Walsh’s Warriors await

Brisbane coach Kevin Walters has asked for more from under-pressure fullback Tesi Niu but insists he doesn’t regret releasing Reece Walsh to the Warriors, who they play on Saturday.

The Warriors will be playing for the first time at their temporary Redcliffe home, leaving the Broncos the novelty of only a short drive to an away game.

Unable to crack Brisbane’s top side, Walsh signed a three-year deal with the Warriors early last season then joined them immediately after Walters granted him an early release.

The 19-year-old shot to prominence, only denied a State of Origin debut through injury, and has started 2022 in solid form.

Meanwhile Niu has emerged as Brisbane’s preferred No.1, despite Walters admitting “a little bit of everything” has contributed to his inauspicious form – particularly under the high ball – to begin the season.

“We’ve seen the great Darren Lockyer spill the ball, Darius Boyd, all the greats dropped balls,” Walters said.

“He’s certainly capable and we don’t have any judgements or doubts on him in that space.

“Not at all (does he regret Walsh’s exit); we have got any number of options at fullback.

“At the moment Tesi’s there, his work on the weekend wasn’t at the level he can play at, but the opportunity’s there in front of him.”

Walters wouldn’t speculate on Walsh’s potential return despite reports suggesting the Warriors’ move back to New Zealand next season could prompt him to seek an early transfer to a Queensland club.

“That’s not for discussion at the moment,” Walters said.

“Right now he’s wearing another jersey and we’ll be doing our best to minimise the impact he has on the game.”

Brisbane (2-1) were thoroughly outplayed by North Queensland last weekend, Walters also seeking more involvement from strike centre Kotoni Staggs after he was upstaged by Valentine Holmes.

The Warriors (1-2) welcome back Shaun Johnson from injury, with former Bronco Kodi Nikorima shifted to the bench.

Maroons centre and Storm premiership winner Brenko Lee will make his Brisbane debut off the bench, added to provide cover after injuries to Jordan Riki (ribs) and Kurt Capewell (calf).

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