A couple of weeks ago, Nathan Brown wasn't sure how to best utilise 18-year-old whizz-kid Reece Walsh.
But after inspiring a 30-26 win over the Wests Tigers at Central Coast Stadium on Friday night, the coach is set to keep Walsh at fullback.
Walsh's sizzling first half – which included two wonderful try assists from cut-out passes and a four-pointer of his own – helped the Warriors survive a Tigers rally despite having two men sin-binned.
He served up another face-ball to seal a six-tries-to-four result, the margin made closer by Kodi Nikorima only kicking three goals.
Brown gave credit to captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who ran for 276 metres after volunteering to move to the wing to accommodate Walsh in the run-on team with Ken Maumalo out due to a minor calf injury.
"Reece has got a skillset which lots of 18-year-olds don't really have," said Brown, who thought prop Tohu Harris was man of the match.
"Young [Sam] Walker's been doing it, Reece has done it for us tonight, the young [Daine] Laurie kid for them [the Tigers] is a good young player.
RTS and Fonua-Blake's insistence lays platform for Walsh clinic
"When the horse man [ARLC chairman Peter V'landys] changed all the rules, what he's done is he's enabled these little players to get into the game and actually play footy and not get hit in the back late like what was happening for 10 years.
"We've actually got these kids who can play footy – we don't coach them, they just go and play. Your heart's in your mouth sometimes, but you've just got to let them go."
Brown is mindful of not letting Walsh get caught up in the hype.
"He's a well-raised kid, he's well-mannered. He's confident, as you'd expect. He's confident but not overconfident," he said.
"He's a decent young kid and with all you characters [in the media] giving him raps all the time, we've got to make sure we help keep him a bit grounded."
The Tigers took the game to the wire and had a right-edge overlap as they attacked after the siren but centre Adam Doueihi spilled the ball.
Warriors back-rowers Ben Murdoch-Masila (professional foul) and Eliesa Katoa (lifting tackle) were given 10 minutes by referee Matt Noyen while others were perhaps lucky to stay on the park.
Fellow forwards Jazz Tevaga and Jack Murchie were both placed on report for high shots but avoided the bin and Tigers captain James Tamou will come under scrutiny for a crusher tackle.
Match: Warriors v Wests Tigers
Round 11 -
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
After a starring role off the bench in last week's loss to the Eels, Walsh began shakily having been promoted back to the run-on team for his fifth NRL game.
But if his confidence was rattled after failing to defuse a grubber that led to Tigers second-rower Luke Garner scoring in the fourth minute, he didn't show it.
Instead, Walsh backed his instincts and rifled a daring cut-out pass to provide Marcelo Montoya with a try in the 10th minute.
Walsh is in everything for the Warriors
Garner then collected his double after storming into a hole off a deft Moses Mbye pass, but Tuivasa-Sheck countered with a dazzling break to send Murchie over.
Another skilful lofted ball from Walsh – undeterred by the fact that Tommy Talau had almost pinched possession when he tried the play a set earlier – got Tuivasa-Sheck on the scoresheet.
Next, Walsh used his speed to slice through a gap and swan-dived into the in-goal for his second try in as many rounds.
But despite all Walsh's brilliance, the tide shifted firmly in the Tigers favour in the second term.
It started when winger David Nofoaluma, playing his 150th NRL game, pounced on a Luke Brooks kick to touch down after a fumble in-goal from Montoya.
Nofoaluma dives on a Montoya mistake
And when Doueihi landed two penalty goals six minutes apart – for the Murdoch-Masila infringement and a high shot by Jack Murchie – the Tigers led 20-18.
With the Warriors down a man it seemed the Tigers would go on with the job but rather it was Brown's men who dug deep to produce two tries while Katoa cooled his heels on the sideline.
Hooker Wayde Egan snatched back the lead as he won the race to a Kodi Nikorima grubber before Walsh sized up the situation perfectly once more as Montoya claimed what turned out to be the match-winner.
A late James Tamou try gave the Tigers a sniff and they almost pulled off a last-ditch miracle, but the Warriors came away with a heart-pumping result that provisionally returns them to the top eight.