It was his first game at fullback in over a decade, but South Sydney rookie Cody Walker insists he won’t be shying away from having a crack at following in the steps of star Greg Inglis.
Walker became the third player in as many weeks to wear the Rabbitohs No.1 when he turned in an impressive performance in the side’s 34-24 NRL win over St George Illawarra on Thursday.
Initially named on the wing, the 26-year-old was told just two days before the game by coach Michael Maguire that he would be switched with Alex Johnston to the backfield.
However, Walker failed to show any nerves against the Dragons, running a team-high 152 metres in an error-free outing that included a match-turning individual try on the stroke of halftime.
“I looked across and Greggy was in the line of passing, so I couldn’t pass it to him. It might’ve been a forward pass, so I had to try something,” Walker said of his try.
“I just sort of grubbered it through and it just sort of opened up. I was going to pass it, then I looked up and there was space behind the line and I just backed myself really.”
It was a highlight-reel moment that not only summed up the utility’s trademark instinctive play, but could also rubber-stamp his future as a bona fide fullback.
Walker admitted he never thought he would wear the No.1 jumper at Redfern.
“(Inglis is) the world’s best fullback, but Madge sort of asked me a couple of days ago, `What do I think of me playing fullback?'” he said.
“And I just said, `As long as I’m playing first grade, I don’t care where I play’. Wherever Madge wants to play me, I’m happy to put my hand up and have a go, as long as I’m having a crack.”
Should Maguire persist with Walker as a long-term solution at fullback, he would continue a long line of indigenous players to star at the Redfern-based club.
“You got Nathan Merritt who’s a lifelong legend really,” Walker said.
“My missus’ family is from Redfern through and through, they grew up in Redfern. I’ve been with my missus six or seven years now and they’re always talking about the Bunnies, so I’m glad to be here.”