Walker hopes for post-Origin lift
Manly centre Dylan Walker is hopeful his time in Blues camp this Origin series will help him lift at club level as he and his teammates look to arrest a worrying seven-game losing streak this Monday night against the Dragons at Brookvale Oval.
Walker was dished out more than his fair share of criticism after being afforded just nine minutes off the bench in Origin I but shook off that experience to put in a solid 80-minute effort in Game Two where despite conceding a handful of early penalties he was able to do an impressive job marking opposite number Greg Inglis.
In that contest Walker made more tackles (18) than anyone from the back five in either team, missing just one, and made over 100 metres. His opposite man Inglis was a focal point for the Maroons attack and saw more ball than any other runner, with 18 carries for 141 metres, but finished the game with no line breaks and just one tackle bust, highlighting the defensive job Walker did in filling in for injured defensive expert Josh Morris.
Speaking from Manly training on Friday morning, Walker said while he'd love to feature in every game of the series, Monday's Origin III team announcement wasn't on his mind as he looked to help his club get back in the winner's circle.
"If I'm there I'm going to put my hand up but if now, who knows… I haven't had any phone calls or anything, I've just been worrying about my own game here at Manly and putting my best foot forward for the club," Walker said.
Prompted as to what he has taken out of his first Origin series, the speedy 21-year-old added: "The second game was a massive one for me, I got tested out and to see what Origin is really about but in saying that I had a lot of fun."
Walker hoped he could bring some extra confidence back to his club.
"When you play rep games you want to come back to club level and perform for your club and your teammates and show what you've learned or picked up over in those rep camps," he said.
"I've probably taken a little bit of confidence out of that. Marking the big fella [Inglis], he's a handful and I probably do take a lot of confidence out of that.
"I think people were expecting him to trample all over me. That's just one of the challenges you've got to face in your career, coming up against such a great player like himself, playing with him and playing against him is s privilege as well. He said to me after the game, we had a bit of a laugh and he said he loved me. No hard feelings."
In terms of the immediate task at hand, Walker said Monday's clash against the Dragons was a must-win but he believed the team was in better form than a seven-match losing run would indicate.
"It feels like we haven't lost seven straight but on the books it shows that we have. We're real positive and the way we go about it, especially at training, it feels like we're so close but yet so far away. It's been a bit tough but we're looking to turn things around," he said.
"We spoke after the [Cowboys] game, we said we were on the right track. It's pretty frustrating we didn't get the win and North Queensland, they're a tough outfit and you need to play for the whole 80. We probably just lapsed off in periods of the game and that's probably what cost us."