Infotainment Factory: Gus: How Roosters hung Walker out to dry

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Monday, 10 June 2019

Gus: How Roosters hung Walker out to dry


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Phil Gould fears that a trio of Roosters stars inadvertently hung Cody Walker out to dry in his ill-fated NSW State of Origin debut.

The Rabbitohs five-eighth, 29, struggled to make an impact on the left edge before being replaced in the second half, then looked far better when brought on for the final 10 minutes.

Walker was playing with a Roosters-heavy left edge featuring Blues captain Boyd Cordner, fullback James Tedesco and centre Latrell Mitchell. The trio boasts a combined 25 Origin appearances.

Speaking on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast with James Bracey, Gould said that the NSW game plan seemed to be stuck in reverse.

“The little thing that concerned me: we interviewed Boyd Cordner on 100% Footy and someone asked him, ‘How does Cody Walker fit in?’” Gould said.

“He said, ‘Oh well, we’ve just said to Cody, how do you want to play? What do you want to do? We’ll work in with you’.

“And yet you’ve got Tedesco, Cordner and Latrell Mitchell all from the Roosters on the left-hand side of the field. They should have been telling Cody Walker what they want. ‘This is what we want, this is when we want it, this is how we’ll play.’

“And Cody Walker then has direction; he knows exactly what he’s doing. And they [Roosters players] are comfortable that they’re getting the ball.”

Listen to the entire latest episode of SIX TACKLES WITH GUS at the bottom of the page!

Gould said that the Roosters trio should have taken the pressure off Walker, who is a brilliant individual attacking player rather than an organiser. He said that “distracted” star Mitchell bore some responsibility for Walker’s tough night.

“Cody Walker’s job was to make them look good,” Gould said.

“Make them look good, give them the ball the way they want it, when they want it. That distracts attention away from Cody Walker, rather than Cody Walker getting the ball, feeling as though he’s got to do something with it every time for himself.

“Which, Cody Walker is an individual player. He’s not a playmaker. He’s an individual-type player, so that’s very hard to do at the Origin level, particularly the first time. The easiest way for Cody to do it is to take attention away from himself; keeping making Cordner and Tedesco and Latrell Mitchell come on to the ball and fire them up.

“And then at some stage in the second half, or close to half-time, a little bit of a show and a go, or maybe a grubber kick for yourself, or a step back in-field and test their forwards through the middle. Which is what he does for his club side.

“Yet I just felt in that interview with Cordner, the mentality was the reverse of what I would have liked. I would have liked Cordner to say, ‘We’ve told Cody Walker what we want’.

“We’ve got three Rooster players there; why are they changing their game for him? And what it led to was confusion, because there wasn’t anything dangerous about that left-hand side in attack all night. It just looked stuttery.

“Some of that was because Latrell looks very, very distracted. But Cody Walker was just left, ‘You play the way you want to play, Cody’. And Cody thinks, ‘Well, what is that?’

“Cody doesn’t play football by thinking and planning. Cody plays football by getting the ball and then instinctively seeing what he wants to do. Under the pressure of Origin, particularly first time in, that’s not an easy thing to do.”

Gus: Mitchell is becoming a distraction

Gould said that Walker’s second stint on the field showed he has something to offer at Origin level.

“You can see how much better he was the second time he went out. He went to the bench and he had some thinking music,” Gould said.

“He sat down, he watched the game for a while. He’s come off and he’s probably all rattled and he’s probably breathing heavy and he’s thinking, ‘Gee, that went so quick’ and he’s watching the game and watching the game and thinking, ‘I can do this’.

“He’d be so much better again [if picked for Origin II]. He goes back into camp with those blokes and spends a week in Perth and they have a look at the video and they’re honest with themselves.

"And Cordner says to him, ‘No, Cody, just give me the ball’. Latrell says, ‘Just give me the ball’. Tedesco says, ‘We should have been sweeping around here’. They start to tell him how they want it and that brings Cody into the game and he can do his own thing later.

“He’s a very good footballer. And if they pick him, he can help them win.”

Who will partner Cleary in the halves?

Gould has thrown his support behind a recall for James Maloney at five-eighth, given he played alongside young halfback Nathan Cleary in last year’s series win and partners him weekly at Penrith.

He also said that he believed Jack Wighton would hold the bench utility spot, having impressed coach Brad Fittler on debut.

Yet he offered an upside on Walker, who at 29 was the oldest debutant five-eighth in Origin history.

“I don’t think Jack Wighton’s done anything to lose selection in the team. If they stick with Cody Walker, I know he’ll be a lot better this time,” Gould said.

Phil Gould fears that a trio of Roosters stars inadvertently hung Cody Walker out to dry in his ill-fated NSW State of Origin debut.

The Rabbitohs five-eighth, 29, struggled to make an impact on the left edge before being replaced in the second half, then looked far better when brought on for the final 10 minutes.

Walker was playing with a Roosters-heavy left edge featuring Blues captain Boyd Cordner, fullback James Tedesco and centre Latrell Mitchell. The trio boasts a combined 25 Origin appearances.

Speaking on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast with James Bracey, Gould said that the NSW game plan seemed to be stuck in reverse.

“The little thing that concerned me: we interviewed Boyd Cordner on 100% Footy and someone asked him, ‘How does Cody Walker fit in?’” Gould said.

“He said, ‘Oh well, we’ve just said to Cody, how do you want to play? What do you want to do? We’ll work in with you’.

“And yet you’ve got Tedesco, Cordner and Latrell Mitchell all from the Roosters on the left-hand side of the field. They should have been telling Cody Walker what they want. ‘This is what we want, this is when we want it, this is how we’ll play.’

“And Cody Walker then has direction; he knows exactly what he’s doing. And they [Roosters players] are comfortable that they’re getting the ball.”

Listen to the entire latest episode of SIX TACKLES WITH GUS at the bottom of the page!

Gould said that the Roosters trio should have taken the pressure off Walker, who is a brilliant individual attacking player rather than an organiser. He said that “distracted” star Mitchell bore some responsibility for Walker’s tough night.

“Cody Walker’s job was to make them look good,” Gould said.

“Make them look good, give them the ball the way they want it, when they want it. That distracts attention away from Cody Walker, rather than Cody Walker getting the ball, feeling as though he’s got to do something with it every time for himself.

“Which, Cody Walker is an individual player. He’s not a playmaker. He’s an individual-type player, so that’s very hard to do at the Origin level, particularly the first time. The easiest way for Cody to do it is to take attention away from himself; keeping making Cordner and Tedesco and Latrell Mitchell come on to the ball and fire them up.

“And then at some stage in the second half, or close to half-time, a little bit of a show and a go, or maybe a grubber kick for yourself, or a step back in-field and test their forwards through the middle. Which is what he does for his club side.

“Yet I just felt in that interview with Cordner, the mentality was the reverse of what I would have liked. I would have liked Cordner to say, ‘We’ve told Cody Walker what we want’.

“We’ve got three Rooster players there; why are they changing their game for him? And what it led to was confusion, because there wasn’t anything dangerous about that left-hand side in attack all night. It just looked stuttery.

“Some of that was because Latrell looks very, very distracted. But Cody Walker was just left, ‘You play the way you want to play, Cody’. And Cody thinks, ‘Well, what is that?’

“Cody doesn’t play football by thinking and planning. Cody plays football by getting the ball and then instinctively seeing what he wants to do. Under the pressure of Origin, particularly first time in, that’s not an easy thing to do.”

Gus: Mitchell is becoming a distraction

Gould said that Walker’s second stint on the field showed he has something to offer at Origin level.

“You can see how much better he was the second time he went out. He went to the bench and he had some thinking music,” Gould said.

“He sat down, he watched the game for a while. He’s come off and he’s probably all rattled and he’s probably breathing heavy and he’s thinking, ‘Gee, that went so quick’ and he’s watching the game and watching the game and thinking, ‘I can do this’.

“He’d be so much better again [if picked for Origin II]. He goes back into camp with those blokes and spends a week in Perth and they have a look at the video and they’re honest with themselves.

"And Cordner says to him, ‘No, Cody, just give me the ball’. Latrell says, ‘Just give me the ball’. Tedesco says, ‘We should have been sweeping around here’. They start to tell him how they want it and that brings Cody into the game and he can do his own thing later.

“He’s a very good footballer. And if they pick him, he can help them win.”

Who will partner Cleary in the halves?

Gould has thrown his support behind a recall for James Maloney at five-eighth, given he played alongside young halfback Nathan Cleary in last year’s series win and partners him weekly at Penrith.

He also said that he believed Jack Wighton would hold the bench utility spot, having impressed coach Brad Fittler on debut.

Yet he offered an upside on Walker, who at 29 was the oldest debutant five-eighth in Origin history.

“I don’t think Jack Wighton’s done anything to lose selection in the team. If they stick with Cody Walker, I know he’ll be a lot better this time,” Gould said.

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