State of Origin 2019: Damien Cook backs Cody Walker to retain Blues No.6 jersey for Origin II, NSW vs Queensland
Damien Cook has urged NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler to hold his nerve and retain South Sydney teammate Cody Walker.
After failing to fire in his Origin debut, Walker is under pressure to hold onto his Blues jersey in the face of stiff opposition from his predecessor James Maloney.
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NRL: The Blues have picked up the phone and contacted Mitchell Pearce in a move that potentially puts him in pole position to win back a spot in the halves to save the 2019 serie.
And while some pundits are baying for changes, Cook said Walker had done enough after proving one of the in-form players during the first half of the NRL season.
âI believe he has earned it with the way he played in the earlier rounds,â Cook said.
âWe lost the game and the halves cop the pressure of that.
âWe went up to Queensland, we lost by four points, they made their own luck, (Dane Gagai) scored a nice try on the wing.
If that (Gagaiâs intercept try) ball goes to (Josh) Addo-Carr and we score in the corner, itâs a whole different story weâre talking about.â
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Cook said the blame for the loss shouldnât fall on Walker and said it was NSWâs inability to get into good field position and Queenslandâs line speed in the second-half which was decisive.
Fittler will be forced to make one change with prop David Klemmer (wrist) out, but Cook cautioned against ringing in too many adjustments given the short build-up.
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âItâs only a short week so we donât want to change too much. As long as everyoneâs got through injury-free, we just want to improve on the areas we didnât do well in game one,â Cook said.
Cook said Walker, who was benched during the game, had copped the criticism on the chin and wasnât worried it could dent his confidence.
âI think heâs responded really well. He probably struggled a bit more playing his first Origin game and getting all those compliments and how well he was playing,â he said.
âHe probably struggled to take that on board more than what heâs doing now.
âHeâs played some really good footy and earned his spot.â
Originally published as âHeâs earned itâ: Cook backs Walker to hold Blues spot for Origin II