Oh, what a feeling: Walker swaps trusty Tarago for sleek Blues-mobile

Cody Walker remembers jamming into the family Tarago with his family and making the 230km trip across the Queensland border to watch State of Origin at Lang Park.

"I used to go as a kid and sit on the hill, and that was the era when Bradley Clyde and Brad Fittler and all those guys were playing,'' Walker said.

"We'd get into the Tarago, the 'silver bullet', with Mum, Dad and my three older brothers. Sometimes Mum wouldn't go and it would be just us boys. It was a great time of year. We'd stay at one of our uncles' places in Brisbane and drive back the next day.''

Walker lived in Casino, in the state's far north, and always bled blue.

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Even when he represented the Queensland Residents in 2013 at ANZ Stadium in an Origin curtain-raiser, Walker quipped ''I wore blue underneath.''

Walker was one of the happiest and in-demand Blues players as the team gathered under sunny skies at North Bondi on Monday.


The night before the 29-year-old told his new teammates about the long journey it had been to make it to the NRL and now State of Origin. Nathan Cleary, his new roommate, loved hearing the stories.

The pair who have been entrusted with guiding NSW around the field on June 5 only met for the first time on Sunday night.

Walker, who did not make his first-grade debut until he was 26, said that when Fittler called to tell him he'd made the team, the conversation lasted all of 30 seconds.

"He asked me if I was ready, how the body was and then said, 'I'll see you tonight','' Walker said.

"That was it. I could understand it because he had so many calls to make, and he was working with Nine. In that moment I wanted to speak to him for half an hour, just chat because I was so excited. This means the world to me.''

Walker is the poster boy for persistence, refusing to give up before finally achieving his childhood dream.

He knows his late mother Linda, who died of a heart attack last year, will be with him every step of the way at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday. He has 'Mum', along with the names of his partner and two boys scribbled on his wrist every game.

"She would have been beaming,'' Walker said.

"I do feel she'll be watching over me somewhere. I want to keep making her proud. Obviously it's been a hard time in my life, it's still very raw and it feels like it happened yesterday.''

Cleary has a new respect for Walker after he spoke about his back story. The 21-year-old said he had only shaken hands with the South Sydney No.6 after a few NRL games.

The Panthers halfback admitted he often thought he would be overlooked for the Blues, but was relieved when Fittler phoned to ask 'are you ready?' on Sunday morning.


As for leading the Blues, especially with Walker being a newcomer to the big stage and experienced Penrith teammate James Maloney not being in the side to assist, Cleary told the Herald: "I definitely think I can. I will have to because I'm the halfback of the team.

"I'll have to do my job and do whatever I can for the team. Whatever Freddy wants me to do I'll do it.

"Cody has been in undeniable form. It's unfortunate for Jimmy [Maloney], but I'm sure he'll bounce back and will be in for a blinder [for Penrith] on Thursday.

"I've got that butterflies feeling again and I'm happy to be back in camp. Putting on the Blues jersey again for photos, it's an honour.''