Walters makes mark in Tigers halves

He's the lesser known of the Wests Tigers big-name halves, but Billy Walters has deserved to keep his spot ahead of the NRL club's marquee players.

Rabbitohs coach MICHAEL MAGUIRE.
Rabbitohs coach MICHAEL MAGUIRE. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

He's the 26-year-old rookie keeping an estimated $1.4 million worth of talent out of the Wests Tigers halves.

But as far as Tigers coach Michael Maguire is concerned, there's no doubting Billy Walters has earned it.

Walters will get the biggest tick of approval in his career on Friday night when he holds onto his five-eighth role for the Tigers' clash with the Warriors.

He has been picked not only ahead of the recently demoted Luke Brooks, but also gets to keep the five-eighth spot despite Josh Reynolds' two-game suspension expiring.

"It's a credit to him," Maguire said.

"He's looked at his game and worked hard. As I say to all my players, when the opportunity comes, be ready.

"Billy's a good player. I have been watching him for quite some time prior to him coming to the club. That's the reason I wanted him to come to the club."

Walters' selection is put into perspective when you consider he only arrived at the Tigers over the summer with two games to his name.

At the same time, Brooks is on a reported $600,000 contract and Reynolds $800,000.

Walters' rise is also even more impressive when you consider how his year could have gone.

Put into dummy-half for the Tigers at the start of the season, he looked to have played close to his last football for the year when Harry Grant became an 80-minute hooker.

With no reserve grade to play in 2020, he spent five weeks training alongside Benji Marshall outside of the team's top 17.

And while Marshall was always favoured to win back his spot at some stage, Walters would have appeared at long odds before starring against Brisbane after Reynolds was suspended a fortnight ago.

"Billy at the moment is doing things we are all pleased with," Maguire said.

"He is working well with Benji. It's about taking our opportunity this weekend against the Warriors.

"He's a quality five-eighth. I had him playing at hooker there early where he hadn't played a lot.

"Circumstances have obviously changed there. Now he is able to play in the position he has played in most of his career and now he's performing."

The Tigers are meanwhile confident Luke Garner will be fine to return from a concussion, while Alex Twal will be a key-in at lock after beating a knee injury.

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Tigers have won five of their past six against the Warriors.

* The Warriors have failed to score 20 points in nine of 11 games this year.

* The Tigers' past five losses have been by 10 or less, while their wins have been by 10 or more.

Stats: Fox Sports