New South Welshman aren’t supposed to agree with Queenslanders when it comes to Origin, but both sets of fans may be in unison when Dylan Walker runs on to Suncorp Stadium for his first Origin start on Wednesday.
A scapegoat for the Blues’ loss in Origin I, Walker was disappointing in a 10-minute cameo that involved one run for a total of 5 meters and an error when trying to milk a penalty from Cameron Smith.
That, coupled with his struggle to transition to the halves at a new club, has left fans and pundits outraged by Walker’s inclusion despite the fact he was representing Australia only two years ago.
Defence wins titles as the old adage goes, but in what has been a reoccurring theme since Ricky Stuart took over, is that the Blues have been solid defence – but unable to make the most of their chances in attack.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, NSW skipper Paul Gallen said that NSW need to score at least 20 points on Wednesday night – a feat the side have only achieved once since 2012.
If 20 points is the target Laurie Daley has set, the injury of Josh Morris is a blessing in disguise. The Bulldogs centre is a reliable footballer but isn’t the type of player that has the ability to change the game. In Origin I, the Blues’ most dangerous player, Blake Ferguson, was isolated on the wing and had little opportunity to attack.
Walker gives the Blues an X-factor. Since Origin I, Walker has been in sensational form. Against the Raiders, he was Manly’s most threatening player making dangerous runs down the right edge before he managed to turn on the style against the Panthers the following week.
In a struggling team, Walker ran the show as he ran hard at the Panthers defence. Aiming to silence his critics, Walker showed imagination and daring to chip the ball over Trent Merrin before racing through to score one of the best tries of the year.
His speed, aggression and creativity will pose new questions of the Queensland defence. Rather than trying to simply contain Greg Inglis, Walker will be forcing his former teammate to defend. The havoc that Walker causes will create room for Ferguson to get in on the act.
So although Walker may not be the most popular when he runs out on Wednesday night, he could be the most dangerous. After all, at only 21 he is a Premiership winner, Australian representative and has a point to prove.