Rabbitohs livewire Cody Walker may be a late bloomer in NRL terms but he's been one of his team's best players over an otherwise underwhelming past month of football and his efforts haven't gone unnoticed by teammates.
Souths looked dead and buried against Penrith last week despite big efforts from high-profile stars Sam Burgess and Greg Inglis but it was arguably Walker's influence that was most responsible for the team's late two-try blitz and push for an unlikely victory that fell just two points short.
Shoehorned into the unfamiliar position of fullback due to personnel changes elsewhere in the 17, the 26-year-old five-eighth from Grafton has made an excellent fist of his time in the No.1 jersey, where he has now started three times.
Those three games netted him two tries and while his fitness has proved more than up to the increased running required at the back it was last week's game against Penrith – moved back to the halves – where he had arguably his most impressive outing of the season.
Walker created three tries almost single-handedly to drag his team back into the contest while booting five goals and racking up over 130 metres – possibly benefitting from an extra string to his bow created by his stint at fullback.
"Cody brings a bit of X-factor," was the assessment of senior teammate Sam Burgess, who was a direct beneficiary of Walker's skills last week when he scored one of the three tries created by the Grafton junior when a show-and-go put him in open space.
"Other teams and clubs have not seen a great deal of Cody play so they're still working him out. He brings speed and he's deceptively strong for his size," Burgess added.
"He's been a great addition to us. He can cover a few positions, he can play in the halves, play a bit of fullback. He can play in most outside back positions. He's a dangerous guy and I thought he created a lot for us last week and we'll be looking for him to do that again this week."
Jason Clark had a similar assessment, while also praising Walker's influence around the group.
"He's a bit of a spark for us I think. Personally I like the bloke off the field, he's a character and on the field he has a little bit of X-factor about him where he can bring something out of nothing."
Walker has been named to once again shift to the back this week with halfback Adam Reynolds named to return early from a shoulder injury – with Burgess expecting the tough Origin half to suit up.
"He's a tough little cookie Adam. We'll be smart, if he's not right he won't play but my gut instinct is he'll make the field," Burgess said.
"He's an important part of our team, he controls the ball, his fifth-tackle options are up there with the best in the game. He certainly adds a lot to our team."