GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - MAY 02: Reece Walsh of the Warriors during the round eight NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the North Queensland Cowboys at Central Coast Stadium, on May 02, 2021, in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

New Zealand Warriors wunderkind Reece Walsh has edged out Sydney's Sam Walker to claim the 2021 RLPA's Rookie of the Year Award.

The 19-year-old learnt of his honouring via an announcement on The Sunday Footy Show and humbly claimed he had been left shocked by the news.

“It’s pretty crazy and still surreal to receive this award,” Walsh said.

“There’s a lot of great rookies to come through this year so I’m pretty humbled to receive it.

“[The NRL experience] was everything and more coming up into first-grade. It was early, I didn’t think I was going to get my crack this year. I was lucky enough to get that... I’m still pinching myself.”

With the award voted upon by each player within the National Rugby League, Walsh told interviewers that he had in fact cast his vote for Walker after his sterling season for the Chooks.

Although the Warriors once again missed out on a September berth, Walsh's opening season at the top level saw many highlights, including the ability to play with, and ultimately replace, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, as well as earning a place within Queensland's Origin camp.

during a QueenslandMaroons State of Origin training session at the Cbus Super Stadium on June 22, 2021 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The speedster remains contracted to the Mount Smart side for a further two-seasons, with a player option available to him for a third.

However, given his seismic start to his NRL career, the Warriors' contractual offers of $450,000 per annum may require boosting if his early trajectory remains a trend.

Walsh will play a large portion of his sophomore season as a teenager given that he won't turn 20 until early July next year.