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Should Cody Walker realise a lifelong dream of trotting onto Queensland's most hallowed turf in a NSW jumper, he'll have done plenty of the hard work from behind enemy lines.

Walker's career-best form under Maroons stalwart Wayne Bennett this year has him piling pressure on incumbent Blues halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney, though Brad Fittler cautiously backed the pair for Origin I at Suncorp Stadium.

Fittler's assessment came after Walker claimed both the individual and competition points when squaring off with Maloney last weekend, his seventh try of 2019 plonking Walker on his own as the NRL's leading tryscorer.

Now 29, Walker will be front and centre in Thursday's grudge match with Brisbane, his own rugby league rise forged some 90 minutes from the Queensland border in Casino.

At the age of 16 he moved into the Titans junior system and cut his teeth at renowned nursery Palm Beach Currumbin, winning a national title against Matraville Sports High in 2008, who boasted a pint-sized Adam Reynolds on their bench.

After two more years in the Titans under 20s and another at Penrith, Walker kept plugging away in the Queensland Cup with Easts Tigers, representing the state's residents side in 2013 and being crowned the competition's best and fairest along the way.

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His persistence paid off with a long-awaited debut at South Sydney in 2016, and Walker insists his sky-blue bloodlines never wavered despite so much time north of the Tweed.

"I'm a Casino boy and I'm a staunch New South Welshman," Walker grins.

"It used to piss me off when Queensland used to win as a kid. Origin used to be our big family outing and god it was good.

"We would go up to Lang Park every year and watch as a family in the late 90s, early 2000s, we'd be there every year.

"You'd have Alfie running around for Queensland, Joey for NSW.

"It was just awesome to be up there, we'd go up on the Wednesday after school, stay at one of my uncle's houses and go in for the game.

"It was a ritual you'd look forward to every single year."

More than once Bennett looked to have lured Walker to Brisbane in 2016, strengthening his Queensland connection further still.

After knocking back an initial Broncos approach the Rabbitohs announced his re-signing, only to never have Walker sign on the dotted line.

Only a Michael Maguire heart-to-heart kept him at Redfern when Bennett came knocking again months later.

Finally the supercoach came to him, calling Redfern home and Walker his five-eighth this season, promptly putting him in the Origin frame with a frank appraisal of his 34 handling errors in 2018 (second-most in the competition).

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"There was no surprises for me when Wayne told me I was up there for the most errors in the game," Walker tells

"I'm very, very conscious of that and Wayne had a yarn about that to me and a couple of other areas in my game we wanted to fix up and I think it's been going alright the last 5-6 weeks.

"It'd be awesome to play Origin, it would be a dream come true.

"I think everyone who plays rugby league has that confidence to play at the highest level.

"I've chatted to Freddie here and there when he's been commentating and around the game.

"We talk footy and I guess the one thing he keeps telling me is to keep backing myself I suppose.

"But I've got to keep focusing first here at South Sydney and those sorts of things will present themselves."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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