Five-eighth Cody Walker has declared “the South Sydney of old” are back and ready to make an impact on the NRL finals after an inconsistent start to their campaign.
With a tough draw to round the season out, the finals credentials of last year’s runners-up appeared in serious doubt, especially after a hefty loss to fellow finals aspirants St George Illawarra in round 15.
But since the return of influential fullback Latrell Mitchell, Souths have scored 70 points across two victories, doing so with a considerable injury list and players unavailable through State of Origin duty.
“We’re playing our style of footy, back to the South Sydney of old,” Walker said.
“Kicking to corners, really backing our defence and having a defensive mindset to start the game. We’ve really done that the last two weeks.
“Now it’s about keeping going with it. Nothing really needs to change. We need to improve in certain areas of the game but we understand where those areas are.”
In the two games since Mitchell’s comeback, Walker has registered twice the number of try assists as in the four preceding games combined.
The five-eighth’s performance against Newcastle last week was his best of the season and proved the difference for the Rabbitohs, who are now a win inside the top eight.
“(Mitchell) is a huge inclusion for not only the team but my game as well,” Walker said.
“I’ve played a number of games with him now and we’ve formed a pretty good combination.
“He just adds another threat to our team. Obviously, he’s quite skilful, big-bodied. He’s hard to handle and he’s dangerous. He’s an important part of our team.”
Walker admitted there had been some tough weeks without Mitchell and he wasn’t alone in struggling to stay positive.
“We’re in a results-driven business and I hate losing,” he said.
“Regardless of my form, (losing) is going to make us not really enjoy our footy.
“But obviously, results change that and I think that’s sort of been the case over the last couple of weeks.”
Walker’s halves partner Lachlan Ilias suffered a head knock on just the second tackle in the win over Newcastle.
He watched the rest of the game from the sidelines, but trained on Tuesday and is on track to face Canterbury on Sunday.
“I don’t see any dramas with him being back in the side,” Walker said.
Alex Johnston missed the Knights game with a quad complaint but is also targeting a round 18 return.
Forward Shaq Mitchell left training early after picking up what appeared to be a leg injury and could join the likes of Hame Sele, Campbell Graham, Liam Knight and Jacob Host in the casualty ward.