Cody Walker under fire as Adam Reynolds incident raises concerns for South Sydney

South Sydney's attack has been criticised after a lacklustre start to the season.

The pressure has ramped up on Cody Walker to step up for South Sydney in Friday night's grudge match against the Roosters, following the shock axing of Lachlan Ilias. Walker's halves partner Ilias has been dumped in favour of Dean Hawkins after back-to-back defeats in the NRL. But the spotlight has also shifted onto Walker, following an eye-opening incident involving Adam Reynolds in the round two defeat against Brisbane.

The Broncos halfback sent an attacking kick from the 10m line straight into the clutches of his former teammate, with Walker taking off downfield with the footy. Despite having the jump on Reynolds, the Rabbitohs No.6 only made it to the 40m line before being run down and tackled by the veteran halfback.

Cody Walker's lack of speed was exposed after being chased down by Adam Reynolds. Pic: NRL/Getty
Cody Walker's lack of speed was exposed after being chased down by Adam Reynolds. Pic: NRL/Getty

Reynolds is hardly renowned for his speed, with the incident raising eyebrows about Walker's own lack of pace. It's been somewhat overshadowed by the controversy around teammate Latrell Mitchell's foul-mouthed post-match interview and the axing of Ilias but the panel on NRL 360 insist Walker should be feeling the heat as well.

“The pressure has to be on Cody Walker. He has got away with it the first few weeks, but now Round 3 against the Chooks with his team 0-2, he needs to step up,” host Braith Anasta said. Fellow panelist and rugby league journalist Michael Carayannis agreed and said being run-down by Reynolds was a telling moment for Walker.

“I think he’s escaped a little bit of scrutiny. So much spotlight has been on Latrell Mitchell but I think Cody Walker has been really poor,” Carayannis said. “He had that calf injury leading into the Vegas game and couldn’t train. He looks like a guy who is short of a gallop.

“His zip is completely gone at the moment. We saw him get run down by Adam Reynolds last week.” NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent also insisted a greater onus needed to fall on Walker now he's been paired with an inexperienced NRL half.

“He has got to step up,” Kent said. “He’s got a journeyman halfback now playing alongside him with all respect to Dean Hawkins (who) has played six first grade games and 82 state cup games. That’s a big difference. Six NRL games doesn’t suggest a kid on the rise. That just puts it all on Cody now to take over the running of the team. He really just has to.”

Cody Walker's Rabbitohs suffered their second straight defeat in the NRL against the Broncos. Pic: Getty
Cody Walker's Rabbitohs suffered their second straight defeat in the NRL against the Broncos. Pic: Getty

Onus on Cody Walker to spark Rabbitohs' attack

Fox Footy's James Hooper was willing to cut Walker a bit of slack after agreeing that his calf injury may have contributed to a lack of speed. But he agreed the talented playmaker needed to pick up his form if the Rabbitohs were to be successful.

“I’ll defend Cody Walker here. I think he’s one of the most naturally gifted ball players in the game,” Hooper said. “You are right about the calf injury, clearly he has been a little bit restricted in terms of his speed but you can never question Cody’s effort. He was playing on the ball last week and busting a gut to try and create opportunities. It’s not just on Walker. It’s on Latrell and Damien Cook as well.”


Anasta said he thought Walker was trying to do too much with the ball and only compounded the problems in attack for the Rabbitohs. The league great said Walker needed to trust his new halfback and allow him to take some of the playmaking responsibility if he wants South Sydney's attack to click.

“Cody being under pressure or having to deliver doesn’t mean he has to try too hard or take the role away from his seven," Anasta said. "You let your seven do his thing and let Cooky do his out of dummy half and then it takes care of itself.

“If he’s going too close to the ball, trying too hard, himself and Latrell, then they are going to be getting the ball in the wrong areas at the wrong time. It’s a tricky one for an out of form player and team to not overplay it and just let everyone play their role. You can tell they are trying hard but it’s just not happening.”