South Sydney players have hailed the courage of teenage centre Dylan Walker, comparing his effort to play 30 minutes with a broken thumb to John Sattler's legendary display with a broken jaw in the 1970 grand final.
Mentioned as a State of Origin candidate in the lead-up to the naming on Tuesday of the NSW team for game two of the series, the 19-year-old reinforced his burgeoning reputation by ignoring pain to not only play on but score a superb try, his second of the match, after being wounded in the Rabbitohs' come-from-behind 34-18 win over the Warriors in Perth on Saturday night.
Walker was due to have an operation on the thumb on Tuesday and is set to be sidelined for six weeks.
While an ankle injury suffered by Greg Inglis dominated the post-script to their journey west, Walker's teammates lined up to heap praise on the emerging outside back when asked whether his performance could be compared to the storied tale of Sattler, who insisted on continuing despite suffering a double fracture to his jaw when he was punched early in Souths' premiership win over Manly 44 years ago.
"It's up there," Souths captain John Sutton said. "I reckon it was a tremendous effort by him. He's a tough kid and to do what he did; he was making breaks all over the field, he scored some great tries and he had to go back to fullback, it was an unbelievable game by him. I take my hat off to him – he really dug deep for the team and we're really proud of what he did."
Walker was injured in the 50th minute as he charged across in cover defence in a bid to stop opposition captain Simon Mannering scoring a try that put the Warriors eight points ahead.
He received extensive treatment on his right hand as the Rabbitohs regrouped behind the goal line but would not leave the field.
"He told the trainer he wasn't coming off," Sutton said. "I think he probably knew that he wasn't going to be right for next week so he just threw everything he had into that game. We were down on troops and he stood up."
Sutton says Walker is "definitely" a player fit for Origin. "His defence is great out there, he's got pace and he knows how to sniff out a try so he'll be in that arena for sure."
Front-rower George Burgess added his weight to the plaudits heaped on Walker as Souths, with five wins in their past six matches, prepare for Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on Friday night. The Tigers stunned Michael Maguire's team in round three with a 25-16 upset.
"It's a pretty substantial injury to play on with," Burgess said. "To score the try that he did with a broken thumb is pretty remarkable."
Souths have named Bryson Goodwin at centre for Friday's game despite injuring his elbow in Perth, and listed rising star Luke Keary to return from a pectoral injury for feeder team North Sydney in the NSW Cup.