NRL Rd 15 - Knights v Warriors
NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 19: Reece Walsh of the Warriors warms up during the round 15 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the New Zealand Warriors at McDonald Jones Stadium, on June 19, 2021, in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Following reports that Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma will be loaned to Melbourne for the remainder of the season, it looks like the Storm's weeks-long search may be over.

Now Warriors CEO Cameron George has gone on record about the Melbourne club's relentless pursuit of Reece Walsh – their initial target to replace Ryan Papenhuyzen in the No.1 jersey.

The Storm believed that as the Warriors were out of the finals race and Walsh would be leaving at the end of the season, the club might be more inclined to let him leave early. But according to George, the Warriors had to knock back Melbourne’s advances on more than one occasion.

“I’ve been approached by (Melbourne), and I had no interest whatsoever to ‘fire sale’ a player off just because of our spot on the ladder,” George told

“It’s important to remember Reece was committed to our club. The only reason that changed is through a series of conversations we’ve had – and it was done on very significant personal grounds, that he wanted to be with his daughter all the time.”

It’s been well-reported that family was the key motivator for Walsh’s move. Were it not for the sudden change in his personal circumstances, George believes Walsh may have stayed with the Warriors to take up a contract option for 2024.

“That’s the only reason he is leaving. It never crossed my mind to think we’d let him go to another club now,” said George.

“It’s not right for our fans and sponsors, because we still want to win every game we can and he’ll play a part in that.

“It’s been an absolute no from the word go. I’ve told the Storm that. I keep reading (that the Storm want Walsh), but it’s not changing.”

“We don’t want to see him trot off to another state and live down there. It flies in the face of why we’re letting him go in the first place.

“While I feel for Melbourne, (injuries) happen to every club at some stage and it’s not in the best interests of this club to let Reece go. That’s what matters most to me, so that’s it.”

Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson agreed with George that he didn’t want Walsh to leave, but didn’t find Melbourne’s relentless interest at the time disrespectful.

“(The pursuit) is smart. They want to win a comp and they want the best players to do that,” Johnson said.

“He’s a player a lot of clubs would love to have out the back.

“He’s made the decision to head home next season for family reasons, so I can’t see why he’d head to Melbourne for the rest of the year.”