15 June, 2024
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Souths still see Walker as Origin option for NSW

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South Sydney want Cody Walker to be NSW’s answer to their halves crisis, hopeful the star No.6 will be fit for the State of Origin series opener.

With Walker having been sidelined by a calf issue, the Blues’ halves shortage took another hit on Saturday night, Nicho Hynes’ own tight calf failing to get through Cronulla’s 42-0 loss to Penrith.

Hynes will now need a modified training load if picked for the Blues on Sunday night, when coach Michael Maguire is expected to name an extended squad for the June 5 opener.

Hynes’ setback comes with Nathan Cleary already ruled out of the first two matches with a hamstring injury, while Mitch Moses is yet to return from a foot injury.

Walker also missed the Rabbitohs’ win over Parramatta on Saturday night, drastically reducing his chances of holding onto the No.6 jersey.

The issue could leave Jarome Luai wearing No.7 for NSW with Matt Burton at No.6, as the last two genuine halves contenders to get through round 12 unscathed.

But the Rabbitohs are adamant a line should not be put through Walker’s name yet for Game I at Accor Stadium, after he was man of the match in Origin III last year.

“I’m expecting Latrell (Mitchell) and Cody to make the team,” interim Souths coach Ben Hornby said. 

Mitch Moses
 A left-field option for NSW would be to take a chance on Eels star Mitch Moses. Image by Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS 

“They’re good enough players and they’ve shown before they should make the team.

“I know who I wouldn’t want to be playing against if I was playing.”

Asked if Walker would be fit in time, Hornby indicated he was some chance.

“Cody is going to have to run on Monday and we go from there,” Hornby said.

“If he runs on Monday and he is no good, then he is no good. If he runs on Monday and is okay, then you go to the next step.”

Another left-field option for NSW could be to recall Moses.

The incumbent halfback has not played since suffering a bad foot injury on March 24, but Parramatta expect to have him fit to face Cronulla on Thursday night..

That would theoretically mean he should be fit for Origin I, but would require him going in without playing a game in more than 10 weeks.

“I’d never want to rule anyone out – that’s not my call – but it would be a big ask given the injury Mitch had,” interim Eels coach Trent Barrett said.

“It was pretty significant and he’s got a plate in his foot and hasn’t really completed a full week of training yet.

“This is his big week, so to throw him into that would be a big ask.

“Mitch is a terrific player, and I’m unsure what they’ll do.”

Outside of the halves, NSW selectors could also be sweating on the availability of Mitchell if they see him as an option at centre.

Mitchell was sin-binned for a hip-drop tackle on Sean Russell in Souths’ win on Saturday night, and must wait to see if he will face a ban.

The Rabbitohs’ fullback has confirmed he wants to play in Origin, and is likely in a battle with Jesse Ramien and Zac Lomax to be NSW’s left centre.

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