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Captain Cody delivers in Magic Round

Cody Walker produced a strong performance as captain, ultimately steering the South Sydney Rabbitohs to a narrow 32-30 win over the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday afternoon at Magic Round.

It was a tricky week for the Rabbitohs who have been navigating injury and patchy form over the opening 10 rounds, and with regular captain Cam Murray the latest to be admitted to the injury ward after mid-week shoulder surgery, Walker arrived in Brisbane with a point to prove. For the first 40 minutes, it was vintage Cody Walker as the five-eighth had a hand in everything; notching up three clear-cut try assists and playing a hand in several more on the way to a 20 point first-half lead.

Walker waves wand and finds Johnston

With Murray sidelined for the next month, Jason Demetriou backed Walker as the man to steer the Rabbitohs as the interim captain, showing plenty of faith in the 32-year-old's leadership. Walker was determined to put a smile on his face after a couple of disappointing performances in recent weeks and was grinning from ear to ear in the opening stages of this game, bringing all of his tricks to Magic Round. He carved through the Warriors edge defence, setting up Taane Milne for the opener, before linking up with Blake Taaffe to set up a second for Milne. Seemingly he had the ball on a string, as he assisted the next two tries and had his side flourishing on both ends of the field.

Taaffe nabs one for himself

The Rabbitohs continued to find success with Walker’s direction in attack, linking up with Lachlan Ilias and Taaffe on either side of the field, causing plenty of problems for the fatigued Warriors defence.

Although the Warriors managed to slow down the rapid attack of the Rabbitohs, Walker still found a way to have his footprint on the game, showing new levels of his leadership in both attack and defence. Walker finished up the game with three try assists, three line-break assists, 21 tackles and 181 kick-metres.

Head Coach Jason Demetriou said his stand-in captain's performance was no surprise to him.

“He did exactly what I thought he would do, it’s no surprise to me at all how he played, he’s been having moments like that in the last few weeks, it’s just that little bit more responsibility and I thought he handled it really well,” Demetriou said.

“His kicking game was outstanding, his connection was really good, but it’s what he’s been doing for three years with us, I had no doubt that Cody would perform tonight.”

Milne opens the scoring for the Rabbitohs

Speaking on his own performance, Walker credited his coach and the pair's conversations during the week in putting a smile back on his face.

“He [Demetriou] just reminded me of why I do what I do, it put a smile on my face straight away, I love this game and I love what it has brought me and my family,” Walker said.

“I had a chat with JD at the start of the week about why do you play footy, it sort of put me in a good mindset to enjoy what I do and just play footy, it’s what I do it’s what I’ve always known, it’s quite easy to be in that mindset because I’ve wanted to do it since I was five-years-old”.

“I probably scaled back my role a bit, I made sure my kick chase was up, my effort areas were and it got me in the game.”

The Rabbitohs undoubtedly have work to do in recapturing the form that propelled them to a grand final birth in 2021, but there is little doubt that a smiling Walker will be an important ingredient to recapture the magic down the stretch. 

Acknowledgement of Country

South Sydney Rabbitohs respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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