In a torrid afternoon against Jamal Idris, Dylan Walker's last-minute line break for City ensured he had the last laugh. Credit: Col Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos
A stunning last-minute line break from Rabbitohs and City centre Dylan Walker, which led to his side earning an amazing and unlikely after-the-siren 26-all draw in Sunday's City v Country match in Dubbo, was a small measure of payback for a torrid afternoon trying to mark man-of-the-match Jamal Idris.
The towering Country centre and former NSW and Kangaroos utility had an outstanding game with some smothering tackles on dangerous City winger Jorge Taufua as well as a number of bumping runs, including one huge shot on Walker that led to a try to outside man James McManus.
"He got me a shot and I knew I had to try and get one back when he ran over me!" Walker told NRL.com. "I thought to myself I'd try and get him back."
That return fire came in the form of a brilliant line break when Walker got outside his man and used his blinding pace and acceleration to streak downfield as the clock counted down inside the final 60 seconds. He was eventually rounded up by fullback David Mead and looked like he may have let his side's final chance go begging by not finding Jorge Taufua in support. However, a freakish late flurry of passing led to centre Will Hopoate surging over near the posts to earn the draw.
"There was 10 minutes to go and we said 'let's just play footy'," Walker said of the frenetic final stanza in which his side scored three tries inside the final five minutes.
"We were offloading quite a bit, we scored those two tries, went back to the kick-off. I wanted to grab Josh Reynolds or Matty Moylan to put a chip in for me over the top but they just said 'we'll shift it to you'. It got shifted to me and I saw a bit of space so I thought I'd take it up and try my best," Walker said.
City captain Ryan Hoffman praised Walker's efforts in defence.
"Big Jamal Idris with those offloads certainly doesn't help but Dylan Walker, to his credit, I thought he defended him quite well. He threw his body in the line and that's what we want, players putting their body in front," Hoffman said at the post-match press conference.
"[Idris] did have a good game, he bumped me off really bad one time. He's a great player, he's played at Origin and Test level. I had to try and contain him but he was a real handful tonight," Walker said.
He added he had really enjoyed the one-week camp and the opportunity to mingle with players from other clubs.
"I had a great week here with Freddie and the boys and the coaching staff. It was fun and I'd love to do it again," Walker said.
"Hopefully I can take that experience back, and have a bit more confidence going back to club footy. I love playing for my club and I loved playing here so hopefully I can take some form back to the club."
Having started the season at five-eighth, Walker is now excelling in the centres for South Sydney and says at this point it is probably his best position.
"At five-eighth, I had a good stint there but I need to learn how to control the game. Sutto [Rabbitohs captain and five-eighth John Sutton] had a great season there last year. I haven't given up faith playing five-eighth but I have to listen and learn and take some pointers off him.
"I've enjoyed my time in the centres here – I really just think that centre's the best position for me at this time."
Casting his eye over potential outside backs for NSW in a few weeks time, Walker said the Blues had plenty of standout options.
"Toops and Hop [City winger Daniel Tupou and centre Will Hopoate] played really well, they killed it I thought, so did Matty Moylan. And in the Country side McManus is always devastating, David Mead had a good game as well. It's a selection the NSW selectors have to make and hopefully they pick the right one and hopefully NSW have a good Origin series."
He also nominated a potential bolter at Blues right centre after one runaway try from a City player on the right edge: "Andrew Fifita thought he was a centre out there!" Walker joked of Fifita's try to kick off the late comeback.
"He played great today, made some devastating runs and scored that fantastic try down the right edge, he's just a big human and very athletic and I thought he put his hand up."