Cody Walker has expressed his surprise at being recalled to the State of Origin squad and is determined to make the most of his opportunity. The New South Wales team, already facing a series loss, has included Walker along with six other new faces for game 3. Walker has played for NSW before but hasn’t featured since the 2020 series. Many believed he should have been picked earlier in the series, but he was kept out by Jarome Luai and then sidelined due to injury. Walker received the call-up on Sunday night and celebrated with his kids, who were initially confused about the news. While he empathises with Nicho Hynes, Walker hopes his recall will inspire others who had given up hope of another chance.
Walker’s ability to create scoring opportunities out of nothing is why Head Coach Brad Fittler has chosen him for the crucial third game. Despite dominating territory and possession, the Blues have struggled to score points in the first two games. Walker, with his track record of setting up 20 tries in 14 games this season, could provide the spark the team needs. Fittler acknowledges their execution has been lacking, and Walker’s impressive form and composure make him a strong candidate to turn the tide.
Walker has worked on controlling his emotions and maintaining a focused mindset, which has positively impacted his performance on the field. As he prepares to wear the sky blue jersey once more, Walker hopes to rectify any past shortcomings and demonstrate his true potential in representing NSW.
While Walker will have familiar faces from his club team alongside him in Damien Cook, Cameron Murray, and Keaon Koloamatangi, he will not have the support of injured Payne Haas from the Brisbane Broncos. Fittler was disappointed to learn that Haas would be unavailable for several weeks, as he was the standout player in the second game. With Haas out, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Jake Trbojevic will form the new front-row partnership alongside the dropped Junior Paulo. Fittler recognizes the loss of Haas and the impact he had on the team, but remains confident in the abilities of the new lineup.
As the Blues gear up for game 3, Walker’s recall has injected much-needed excitement and optimism into the squad. His inclusion provides a fresh impetus to salvage some pride in what has been a disappointing series for New South Wales thus far. Walker’s remarkable playmaking skills and improved mental approach make him a potential game-changer. The team will be looking to him to make a significant impact and help the Blues score more tries, ultimately aiming to secure a victory in front of their home crowd in Sydney. Walker’s journey of redemption in the sky blue jersey is set to unfold, and only time will tell what the future holds for him and his team.