While Blues squad member and Rabbitoh, Dylan Walker, didn’t play in New South Wales’ State Origin Game II win in Melbourne last night, the Souths Junior’s first foray into the interstate Series left a huge impression.
In front of a record State of Origin crowd of 91,513 at the iconic MCG, Walker’s New South Wales teammates managed to level the Series with a 26-18 victory over Greg Inglis’ Maroons.
Walker, called up to the side as a shadow player on Saturday morning, warmed up with the Blues before getting the chance to take in what was an explosive Game II from the stands – the experience only strengthening his goal to play at Origin level.
Video: Origin II Highlights
Story: Origin II Match Report
Gallery: Origin II Gallery
“The crowd and the whole experience was electric,” said Walker.
“I’ve never felt that sort of atmosphere before and it’s probably one of the best Origin’s I’ve seen – a lot of points scored, a few try-saving tackles and a lot of feeling. It had everything so I think no-one was disappointed afterwards except maybe Queensland fans.
“It’s going to be a real big one up in Brisbane for Game III.”
The competitive edge and itch to play was strong in Walker in the lead-up to kick-off, with the Mascot Jets product admitting that while his seat in the stands made for good viewing, he preferred to be in the thick of the action.
“I definitely wanted to be out there,” admitted Walker.
“Especially after getting out and being part of the warm-up and getting to hear that crowd – I was really fired up and pumped up for it.
“But the boys did the job and came home strongly. I just thought they played to their capabilities last night and that’s what it’s all about. My goal is to continue to work hard now and my time will come.”
Two late tries to Aaron Woods and Josh Dugan sealed the game for the Blues, prompting euphoric scenes from New South Welshmen on the field. Walker praised the level of camaraderie among the side in celebrating the crucial victory.
“It was just a great feeling,” said Walker.
“There was a real buzz in the rooms after the game, knowing that we’re level (with Queensland) and that there’s everything to play for in Game III.
“Everyone comes together really quickly in those camps and become really close. You could see that after the game because everyone just wanted to be in each other’s company after all the hard work together.
Rabbitohs skipper Greg Inglis was in the thick of the action last night, with the Maroons rep topping the all-time State of Origin try-scorers list with his four-pointer. GI would have extended that lead not long afterwards when he streaked almost the length of the field to score, only for the try to be disallowed. Walker couldn’t understate the importance of his Club Captain to the Maroons side last night.
“I was hoping he wouldn’t turn up,” laughed Walker.
“He played really well I thought and he stood out for his team. Greggy’s a great player and a big part of the Maroons side and the Rabbitohs.
“He really broke loose there at points and looked like he was enjoying his footy.”
With a taste of Origin still fresh in his mind, Walker is proud to have been a part of the squad for Game II and has no doubts that he wants the opportunity to play.
“It’s pretty special knowing that your State wants you to come and be part of the squad,” said Walker.
“I really did enjoy the week and I had a lot of fun. The goal now is obviously to get into that 17 and that means just putting my head down and playing well.”