Queensland can expect to see controversial NSW selection Dylan Walker early and often in the Blues’ do-or-die State of Origin clash on Wednesday, according to forward Greg Bird.
NSW coach Laurie Daley came under fire before, during and after the series-opening clash in Sydney for picking the Manly star, particularly when Walker was limited to a fruitless nine-minute cameo.
Daley gave nothing away earlier in the week when asked about his plans for his utility, but veteran Bird didn’t hesitate in predicting an earlier appearance from the former Kangaroos representative.
Especially on what is likely to be a drier track at Suncorp Stadium.
“It was a dewy, pretty slick track at ANZ for game one. The ball movement wasn’t there, it wasn’t conditions that suited the football that Dylan plays at Manly especially,” Bird said.
“But going to Suncorp with a bit more open game, they’ll have us back 13-14 metres and hopefully that’ll bring `Walks’ in.”
However, the Gold Coast forward did get coy on where exactly Walker will play, simply insisting that the ex-South Sydney centre could pop up in a number of positions.
In Origin I, Walker, who scored 16 points in last week’s NRL loss to Penrith, substituted right-edge backrower Josh Jackson, but played a roving role in the back end of the match, touching the ball just twice.
“He can play anywhere,” Bird said.
“He could give Robbie (Farah) a rest at hooker and play a bit of nine, or he could come play a bit of lock forward or add a bit wide in the centres.
“It’s good having him on the bench purely if someone does go down – a winger, centre, half, hooker, he can fill a role, which is great for the team.”
Bird also predicted more points would be scored in Origin II.
“Game two is regularly a little bit more open football games,” he said.
“I don’t think it matters whether it’s at Suncorp. Last year in Melbourne was a lot more points scored than game one as well.
“We know that we’re going to have to score more points than we did in game one, but, on the same coin, we’re going to have to defend as well because they’re going to be a lot better.”