Former owner of the jersey, now-coach Billy Slater says Walsh has done more than enough to earn his origin debut in Game I this year.
"I'm really comfortable this is the right decision," Slater said during a press conference on Monday morning following the team being selected.
"There's a lot more to Reece Walsh than what we see on the surface, he's got a great work ethic, if you ever watch him play live he's moving a lot without getting in the picture.
"His game is in a good place, it's going to get even better."
Walsh was originally set to make his origin debut back in 2021, before being cruelled by a last minute hamstring injury, robbing him of his representative debut.
Slater says Walsh has become a much more versatile player since 2021, and the coach is positive he has made the correct decision with the exclusion of Ponga.
"Now he is a much more capable player, he's a much more rounded player," Slater said.
"It was a great phone call, they're the good ones, he gets to play his first game for Queensland, it was a pretty emotional phone call. "
With Walsh still having a few errors in him per game, the coach was questioned if he would try to limit Walsh's style to minimise errors, to which Slater immediately replied "we want Reece to be Reece."
The rapid rise of Walsh this season however, has caused one of 2022's best origin stars to be left out of the side.
Ponga has found a return to form in recent weeks, but it seems too little too late for the Newcastle five-eighth.