Walker feared he'd never be NSW No.6 again

Scott Bailey
·2-min read

Cody Walker admits it took him some time to get over last year's State of Origin axe as he feared he'd finish his NSW career a one-game player.

Walker will on Wednesday night get his reprieve in the Blues' No.6 jersey, after Brad Fittler's decision to cull Luke Keary and call up Walker from the bench for the must-win clash.

With the idea of completing unfinished business after that Game I loss last year firmly implanted in his mind.

One of the form players of the competition over the opening months last year, Walker was hooked after just 56 minutes of his Origin debut last season.

He returned for the final 10 minutes and played with more impetus but was still discarded and had his form fade away as South Sydney went into a mid-season freefall.

"Last year I didn't really think I would get another shot at it," Walker said.

"It was obviously quite tough. You don't know how to react to that stuff until you get put in that situation.

"I probably took a little bit of time to regain my confidence and started to play my best footy at the back end of last year."

Walker entered this season with the objective of getting his hands on the ball more.

It helped him to a magical 12-week run at the end of the campaign, where he set up 17 tries and scored seven of his own in Souths' greatest ever attacking streak.

It's the opposite to the way he played in his first 56 minutes of Origin last year, where he remained stuck on the left edge and not letting himself search for the ball.

The Rabbitohs five-eighth spoke extensively in recent weeks about learning from that disappointment, a lesson he showed during his limited minutes from the bench in last week's Origin defeat in Adelaide.

"I was hoping to get another crack last year and that wasn't the case ... I have to get my hands on the footy a little bit earlier than I did last year," Walker said.

"I just can't wait to get out there. I am buzzing, I'm ready to go and am pretty excited."

Key to that will be how he combines with his halves partner Nathan Cleary.

No.7 Cleary spoke about the need for him to be the dominant voice, allowing Walker to roam the field after more than half his tries at the end of the year came on the right.

"It probably suits my game a little bit more (that he is a dominant half)," Walker said.

"It allows me to float both sides of the field, which I like to do.

"Communication is the biggest thing there, letting Nath know where I am and just connecting with each other is the key."