Miller puts faith in teen playmaker

ZAC Walsh is just 18, but the plucky halfback is not afraid to boss around his more experienced forwards.

His willingness to talk led Western Suburbs coach Craig Miller to gamble on throwing Walsh the Rosellas No.7 jersey for Sunday’s Newcastle Rugby League match against leaders Cessnock.

Walsh will replace Ryan Walsh after starring on debut in reserve grade in a 40-26 win over Souths last weekend.

The former Gold Coast Titans and South Sydney junior scored the first of a hat-trick of tries when he dummied and took on the line from 15 metres out with his first touch.

‘‘He was very impressive,’’ Miller said.

‘‘He has all the talent, all the skills, a great kicking game, and I like what I saw.

‘‘Obviously he needs to work on his condition, but in saying that, unlimited interchange in the local league ensures that his talent can be used and we’ll work towards him playing better minutes, but at this stage I’m keen to give him a crack at Cessnock.’’

Lining up against the Goannas should not intimidate Walsh.

He has played a handful of games with the Western Suburbs Magpies NSW Cup side this season, including a debut against a Knights side who had centre Junior Sa’u and the recently sacked Central Newcastle five-eighth Albert Kelly in their side.

‘‘My kicking game is probably my best [skill], but I like to direct, so I love telling the boys where to go and getting to a spot on the field and executing the game plan,’’ Walsh said.

‘‘Barney [Miller] spoke to me when I first came to training last week and said, ‘I want you to be a talker and I want you to be real direct.’

‘‘He wanted to see how I went in my first game and hopefully I’ve done my best.’’

Walsh moved to Newcastle last week after he was signed for the Knights under20s for the next two years.

Knights recruitment manager Peter Mulholland has asked the Rosellas to improve Walsh’s fitness for the start of pre-season training in October.

Since the loss of Nathan Hinton to Souths at the start of last season the Rosellas have searched for a dominant No.7.

Brad Murray, Adrian Davis, Tim Penny, Ryan Walsh and Tom Lidden have all tried to fill the void with varying success at Harker Oval.

The former Queensland under-15 representative said he had no fear of the high expectations.

‘‘I like to put challenges to myself and better myself each week. Hopefully I’ll bring the team to a grand final again.’’

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