Cody Walker is not taking his return to State of Origin as a mere cameo appearance. Despite being significantly older than his fellow playmakers, Walker sees himself as the solution not just for the present, but for the future of the New South Wales (NSW) Blues. Brad Fittler, the coach of the Blues, has confirmed that the seven changes made for State of Origin III, including Walker, are aimed at winning this game and not necessarily planning for the future. Walker expressed his uncertainty about being selected for the team, considering the possibility of the selectors looking towards younger players. However, he views this opportunity as a chance to showcase his style of play and prove himself for the future. Walker firmly believes that age is just a number and is using this opportunity as a stepping stone for next year. He confidently declares, “Don’t write me off too early.”
At 33 years old, Walker certainly brings experience to the team compared to his younger pivot peers. Jarome Luai, who was dropped from the team, is 26 years old, while another contender for the five-eighth position, Nicho Hynes, is 27. To put Walker’s age into perspective, Daly Cherry-Evans, one of the standout players for the Queensland Maroons during the opening games of the series, is 34. However, Walker’s current performance on the field suggests that age is not a hindrance. Leading the NRL with 24 try assists, Walker recently signed a contract extension with the South Sydney Rabbitohs until the end of 2025, indicating the club’s confidence in his abilities. It begs the question, is Walker in the prime of his career?
When asked about his form, Walker humbly admits that he prefers not to dwell on the past and become too comfortable. He sees each opportunity as a chance to give his best for the state and see what unfolds. Despite his late introduction into the NRL and a delayed debut at the age of 26, Walker believes that it has actually helped prolong his career. The extra time allowed him to physically and mentally mature, giving him an advantage when it comes to playing the demanding style of football in the NRL. Walker attributes his longevity to focusing on the present moment and feeling physically fit, as well as the support provided by his club. He jokes, “I’m a bit of an idiot when I’m around the boys.”
State of Origin III will mark Walker’s sixth appearance in the sky blue jersey, but he admits that he is yet to dominate in the Origin arena to the same extent that he has in club football. He sees this game as an opportunity to put his best foot forward and show what he is capable of. Walker acknowledges that it’s time to stop talking and start performing. He plans to go out on Wednesday night and play his best football, hoping to make a significant impact for his team.
The NSW Blues have had enough quality possession in the first two games to secure victories, but their inability to convert it into points has led to Walker’s recall. Fittler recognizes Walker’s excellent execution on the field and believes that he has been in great form for years. The primary focus for the team is to score more tries, and Walker’s inclusion in the lineup is expected to help achieve this goal.
As Walker prepares to once again wear the sky blue jersey, he remains confident in his abilities and optimistic about his future in rugby league. Despite his age, he firmly believes that he still has a lot to offer on the field. His performance in State of Origin III will be crucial not only for this game but also for his aspirations in the years to come. The future holds immense potential for Cody Walker, and he is determined to make the most of it.