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Five words from Wayne behind Walker's rise from Origin nightmare

Cody Walker will trot out in front of 52,000 Queenslanders on Wednesday night with five words of wisdom from the Maroons coaching box ringing in his ears.

"Just go be Cody Walker."

Walker credits the simple mantra from Rabbitohs coach turned Maroons mentor-once-more Wayne Bennett for lifting him out of the doldrums of his last Suncorp visit in sky blue.

The South Sydney five-eighth was first hooked in his Origin I debut last year – an 18-14 Blues loss where he struggled to get his hands on the ball – then dropped as he struggled for form throughout the 2019 winter.

Walker feared he might never make it back to the Origin arena given his age and NSW's strong playmaking stocks.

Instead his return to partner Nathan Cleary in game two helped unlock the Penrith playmaker's best and now has the Blues eyeing a third-straight series win if Walker is to atone for his last Suncorp outing.

Walker breaks through on the right

With Bennett in his corner at Redfern, and of course now in charge for Queensland again, Walker says he is a different beast regardless of how Wednesday's decider plays out.

"Wayne was a big help through that period," Walker told NRL.com.

"Personally I didn't regain my form really until the back end of that year.

"Wayne's main message was 'bring Cody Walker to games'. That's been one of his biggest messages to me, and he just kept it up through that period.

"'Just go be Cody Walker. Smile and play your footy.'

Addo-Carr secures his double from Walker kick

"It's simple, but it works. He understands how to motivate players, it's one of his best coaching strengths.

"Thinking about form, I wasn't at my best, I don't think I got there for a long time afterwards.

"I'm not sure if [Origin] had a total effect on how I was travelling there. Mentally I was OK, I was alright because I had great support around me with my wife and my kids.

"If you're measuring it on performance it did take me a little while to get back to that and regain that confidence.

"It was quite tough but I'm excited to get back up there and have another crack."

Origin trips to Suncorp Stadium have long been the highlight of Walker's year, with a Brisbane pilgrimage from northern-NSW an annual event for he and his siblings growing up.

He wasn't in the stands for the Blues 2005 triumph, the last time NSW won a decider on Queensland soil, instead watching Andrew Johns carving up that series from his lounge room.

The relatives he still has in his hometown of Casino are permitted to cross into the Queensland border while he also has a brother travelling down from Cairns for the game.

"It'll be 95 per cent Queenslanders in the crowd, but hopefully my family can offer a bit of NSW support," Walker quipped.

"It used to be our big family outing and we'd be staying with my uncle who lived near the stadium.

"He was a Queenslander but we'd be coming up during the early 2000s when NSW won quite a bit.

"So we'd rush home from the game to be able to watch the last 10-15 minutes of a NSW win on replay, just to rub it in a bit more.

"It's quite surreal to be playing in it now after making that trip so many times and being at those games."

 

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