South Sydney centre Dylan Walker capped a brilliant sophomore season in the NRL by winning selection in Australia’s Four Nations squad. An exciting, raw talent as an 18-year-old rookie in 2013, Walker made the leap to elite player this year, playing an integral part in the Rabbitohs’ euphoric premiership triumph.
Powerful, tough and blindingly quick, Walker’s ball-playing ability was given a chance to flourish in a stint at five-eighth at the start of the season – an experiment that was aborted after only three games.
But he starred again after returning to the centres, debuting for City Origin and then blazing over for four tries against the Gold Coast less than a week later.
Arguably Walker’s best performance of the season came when he was pitched into the fullback role midway through Souths’ rugged clash with the Warriors in Perth, replacing injured teammate Greg Inglis. Walker suffered a broken thumb early in the second half, but scored a sensational solo try (his second of the match) five minutes later to spark a 34-18 come-from-behind win, finishing with man-of-the-match honours in a gutsy display.
The injury he suffered ruled him out of contention for a possible NSW Origin call-up, but higher honours were just around the corner. Walker turned 20 the day after the Rabbitohs’ preliminary final defeat of the Roosters, before putting in another strong display in the grand final victory.
Jarryd Hayne’s shock withdrawal from the Kangaroos squad has put Walker in the box seat to snare a starting centre spot for next week’s Four Nations opener against New Zealand.
An over-the-moon Walker spoke with the media earlier this week following his much-deserved call-up.