Dylan Walker’s NRL premiership-winning South Sydney teammates believe the controversial NSW selection’s versatility will be key for the Blues in State of Origin I.
The selection of the out-of-sorts Walker, who joined Manly from Souths this season, has been the subject of fierce criticism in the lead-up to the series opener in Sydney on Wednesday.
But former teammates Alex Johnston and Kyle Turner defended that selection on Monday.
Walker has struggled at five-eighth for Manly before being moved to centre in 2016, but in 2014 he starred as the Rabbitohs claimed the title and he earned a call-up to the Kangaroos side.
Rabbitohs star Johnston played alongside Walker in their NRL triumph and was part of the Kangaroos Four Nations squad with him. Johnston backed his ex-teammate to stand up on Wednesday night.
“He’s very versatile – you can chuck him anywhere. He has the size to play in the back row, he has the skill to play in the halves, he has the speed to play out wide,” the former Australian winger said.
“(Blues coach) Laurie Daley obviously has a plan for him in the side and I am looking forward to seeing him play on Wednesday.”
Indigenous All Stars representative Turner also played alongside Walker during the 2014 NRL season.
“I can see Dylan coming on for NSW and whatever role he will play, he will play tough, he will play fas. I think he is built for Origin for sure. He will go well,” Turner said.
“Obviously he has played a few rep games so he does have the experience and he has the Origin mentality that will allow him to play well.
“He has been on the big stage before and I think he is ready for Origin.”