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It’s easy to forget that Rabbitohs centre Dylan Walker only made his first grade debut in round 10 of 2013. But this Friday, Walker will experience Good Friday Footy in the red and green for the very first time, and he’s not alone.
In 2013, a then regular-season record crowd of 51,686 was on hand to see the traditional Good Friday clash between the Rabbitohs and the Bulldogs, solidifying the event as one of the season’s true high-points.
In 2014, Walker, along with a whole new batch of Rabbitohs will be introduced to the custom after Michael Maguire named an extended squad for the tussle, including recent debutants; Kyle Turner, Apisai Koroisau, Cameron McInnes and Kirisome Auva’a.
Joe Picker, Joel Reddy, Luke Burgess and Alex Johnston (all named in the squad) are also yet to experience the Good Friday clash that regularly attracts some of the games’ biggest crowds and will be ready to answer the call should Maguire need them.
Despite the excitement surrounding the clash, for Walker and his team, it’ll be business as usual on-field.
“We’re treating it like a normal game,” said Walker of the much anticipated match that saw the Rabbitohs emerge victorious 17-12 in 2013.
“I guess I didn’t really understand how big an event it was and what it meant to people until I saw how big the crowd was last year.
“I was there watching it and it was a really tough game – plenty of contact and plenty of feeling so I can’t wait to get out there myself and do the same. I think it’s become one of the biggest games of the year really.”
Although a relatively fresh face himself, asked how he thinks the newer inclusions in the Rabbitohs camp will enjoy the experience in front of what is shaping as a healthy Good Friday crowd, Walker had no doubts.
“We prepare well as a team,” said Walker.
“The boys have been playing well and I’m sure it’s going to be something we’ll all remember. But we’re just focussed on playing good footy.”
Rabbitohs Head Coach Michael Maguire recently praised his new crop of talent on rabbitohs.com.au for their enthusiasm and professionalism.
“I’ve been impressed with the way they went through the pre-season and just the way they’ve gone about their development,” said Maguire.
“They’ve been really professional and they bring a great deal of enthusiasm and that’s part of the joy of bringing in young guys – they’re really enthusiastic and it rubs off on those around them. Myself included.”
The seventh placed Rabbitohs will have their work cut out for them against a resurgent Bulldogs side currently sitting in second position, and coming off a one-point victory over the Warriors in New Zealand.
“They’re a big forward pack and we’re expecting plenty from them up-front,” said Walker.
“They’re a great team in great form, so we just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing – training hard, sticking to our standards and keeping the focus we’ve had over the last few weeks. We’re certainly feeling strong as a team right now, we’re feeling good.
“We’re just trying to play good footy by sticking to those standards we keep talking about, get those wins and be humble about it.”
Walker urged all Rabbitohs Members to turn out in force on Friday afternoon to throw their support behind the red and greens in what promises to be another match to remember.
“I really hope our Members and supporters get out there on Friday,” said Walker.
“Plenty of people bring the family and spend the day there and it just felt like a big event last year. I can’t wait to be out there! It’s going to be a great game and it’s going to be a great show, so don’t miss it.”
The South Sydney Rabbitohs will take on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the annual Good Friday clash this Friday at 4pm. Take advantage of FREE RAIL with every barcoded ticket (including Rabbitohs Members) and see your Rabbitohs do battle live!
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