Cody Walker - what a player.
After making his South Sydney Rabbitohs debut as a late bloomer at the age of 25, the elusive five-eighth and fullback has seamlessly transitioned into first grade over the last two seasons, bagging the RLPA’s Rookie of the Year in 2016 in the process.
Heading into just his third season in the NRL with the Grand Old Club, Walker has produced some absolutley stunning highlights in his 44 matches. Here we look back on five of his finest moments.
First NRL try - Round 5 2016 v Manly Sea Eagles
After being involved heavily in the Rabbitohs’ demolition jobs against the Sydney Roosters and Newcastle Knights in the first two weeks of the season, Walker bagged his first NRL try in just his fifth appearance for the Club against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval.
On a cold Thursday night, the Rabbitohs travelled across the bridge to take on one of their biggest rivals and looked to continue their early-season form with a third win of the campaign.
While Brookvale Oval is notoriously dubbed as ‘The Fortress’, the venue’s hostile presence failed to deter the Rabbitohs as they ran to a 10-0 lead after 10 minutes, and furthered the advantage just a couple of sets later thanks to some of Walker’s magic.
Receiving the ball 15 metres from the line on the third tackle, Walker showed off some of his trademark individual brilliance with a side step and a dummy to fool the defence and slice right through the line to get his first NRL four-pointer.
The moment injected a shot of confidence into Walker, who went on to score a further seven tries that season, while setting up plenty of others in the process.
Indigenous brilliance - Round 11 2016 v St George Illawarra Dragons
As a proud Indigenous man from Nowra, Walker put absolutely everything into his first Indigenous Round outing, which also coincided as his first match playing at fullback, oddly enough in the no.5 jersey.
While he had an overall top-notch match, there was one moment in particular that set apart from the rest - one which changed the outcome of the contest.
With the Dragons holding a 12-8 advantage in the final minute of the first half, the Rabbitohs were on the attack just 20 metres from the try line and desperate for points.
Standing at first receiver, Walker took charge and pulled off a miracle as he feigned a pass and cut back on the inside. He then grubbered the ball between two defenders, and regathered it to score a memorable try, giving the Rabbitohs the advantage going into half-time.
While the momentum continually swung throughout the contest, Walker’s try eventually set up a 32-24 victory for the Rabbitohs.
The entertainer – Round 25 2016 v Newcastle Knights
While the Rabbitohs were out of finals contention before their match against the Knights in Round 25, the players made sure that they would not go down without a fight, adding in a little bit of finesse to boot.
Once again Walker would pop up at just the right moment to give his side a commanding lead just before half-time, but this time it would be alongside his halves partner Adam Reynolds.
As the first stanza wound down, and the Red and Greens up 10-0, the Rabbitohs were back on the attack. On last tackle, just 20 metres out from the try line, Reynolds cleverly put through a chip kick, which was regathered by Walker. He seemed to appear out of nowhere and put the ball down under the posts to give his side a 16-0 lead going into the break.
Walker would continue to influence the side as he set up a try for Aaron Gray early in the second half, to help set up a 34-12 victory.
Slicing up the Sea Eagles - Round 2 2017 v Manly Sea Eagles
In what has been one of his biggest performances of his career, Walker absolutely lit up Brookvale Oval in the second match of the Rabbitohs’ 2017 season.
Things were looking ominous for the Red and Greens as the home side ran in three tries in just 15 minutes, however it was Walker who sparked the comeback for the Rabbitohs as he sent Robert Jennings over for his first try in Club colours.
Just a few minutes later, the man himself would bag a meat pie, and lock up the scores after showing some fancy footwork on his way to the try line. The Rabbitohs’ next venture to the try line would see Walker slice through the defence once more and put John Sutton over for the advantage into half-time.
The return of his halves partner Reynolds certainly boosted Walker’s confidence, as he finished the game with a try, two try assists, three linebreaks and 80 running metres.
Setting up the demolition - Round 17 2017 vs Penrith Panthers
Wearing their Indigenous jersey to celebrate the start of NAIDOC Week, this match against the Panthers may be best remembered for Alex Johnston’s five-try tally, but you can certainly argue that it was one of Cody Walker’s finer performances for the Club as well.
Two of ‘AJ’s’ tries were set up by Walker, playing at fullback, but the defining one came just before half-time.
With 20 seconds left on the clock and the Rabbitohs holding a 10-point advantage, Walker made it clear that he and his teammates were looking to put on a score. He took an offload off Sam Burgess and burst through the line. He then kicked ahead for AJ to regather the ball, in what was one of the Rabbitohs’ most exciting tries of the season.
Here's to many more memorable Cody Walker moment still to come!