Maguire pleased with Walker's progression
South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire says it comes as no surprise to see first-year five-eighth Cody Walker succeeding in the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Walker has excelled in his debut season in first grade in the halves and at fullback, and was the shining light in his side's 28-26 loss to Penrith on Friday night.
The 26-year-old set up three tries and ran for 133 metres and looked lethal every time he touched the ball.
Without regular halfback Adam Reynolds there to steer the side around, Walker took the reins as chief playmaker, constantly putting doubt in the defence with his speed, agility and footwork.
"He's dangerous every time he touches the ball and he showed some really good form," Maguire said after the game.
"He's performing exactly how I thought he would. In the football where you can shift it a little bit, it gives him great opportunity and I was really pleased for him tonight."
Souths skipper Greg Inglis was moved from five-eighth to centre to accommodate Walker's move back to the No.6 jersey and was full of praise for his teammate on Friday night.
"Cody Walker is a natural footballer," Inglis said.
"He plays what he sees and he's a gifted, young talent – I wouldn't say young, he's 26 – but he's definitely a great player to play alongside. I'm glad he's playing inside me."
Walker might have been the standout player on Friday night but he wasn't the only Bunny to return to form.
Inglis relished the move back to centre with a trademark bullying run that led to a try, while Sam Burgess was once again outstanding with 204 metres, 35 tackles and a couple of tries at the death.
"There are a lot of great performances amongst what we're doing," Maguire said.
"While Greg and Sam and the more senior players of our team are performing, we're going to keep fighting and keep putting ourselves in an opportunity."
Inglis's return to form should come as no surprise given what time of the year it is.
The Maroons superstar has traditionally taken his game to new heights during the Origin period, and backing up just two days after Game II, Inglis ran for 182 metres in one of his busiest showings of the season.
"I just wanted to back up from Wednesday night," he said. "I wanted to come back to club land and put my best foot forward for this team."
The Rabbitohs were arguably the better side for large portions of the Round 16 opener, making more metres and offloads, and committing fewer errors.
Despite the improved showing, it still wasn't enough as the Panthers held on for the two-point win.
Maguire said after the game that there were a number of positive signs, but ultimately the inability to execute for 80 minutes cost his side on the night.
"We probably put ourselves into some tough positions throughout the game and gave them opportunities. You do that in the NRL and you'll obviously have points scored against," he said.
"I thought there were times there where we showed some good fight in our defence; we've been talking about that for a while. We held them out for a period of time, but again, that's an area we need to make sure we tidy up.
"Our completion rates in the first half definitely put us in a good position. We showed some fair fight during periods of the second half but we've got to keep doing it for longer periods of time.
"If we keep working hard at those little areas – it might be a completion or it might be a strong defensive set – that’s what the NRL demands from you as a team.
"Every set counts and every play counts and they're the little areas that you've got to keep being spot on with."