Rookie NSW playmaker Cody Walker has vowed not to "sit here and sulk" with just 80 minutes left to state his case for Blues retention after being benched by Brad Fittler less than an hour into his Origin debut.
Walker was replaced after 56 minutes in the Blues' 18-14 loss to Queensland on Wednesday night, with the 29-year-old's hold on the No.6 jumper to be a selection focal point in the lead-up to what is now a do-or-die Origin II fixture in 17 days' time.
But with Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett declaring it "I just don't think it's in his best interests to back up two days later", Walker is set to be rested from Friday's clash with Newcastle.
The critical call will leave Walker with just a round 14 clash against Penrith – opposite NSW halves partner Nathan Cleary and No.6 competitor James Maloney – before the Blues side for game two is picked.
Fittler put his crunch call to inject utility Jack Wighton at Walker's expense down to the Blues' defensive frailties on the left edge and "Cody struggling to get into the game" after half-time, with the coach explaining his decision to Walker in-depth in the NSW sheds afterwards.
Walker conceded he had areas to improve in an Origin debut that saw him struggle for cohesion in attack at times alongside half Nathan Cleary and in defence inside Latrell Mitchell, but had no issue with Fittler's decision to bench him.
"I was a little bit surprised but I'm happy to do whatever the coaches want," Walker said.
"It's no secret that I'd love to play the full 80 minutes but whatever the coaching staff need from me, I'm happy to put my hand up and do.
"If it means going for five minutes and playing an Origin game, I'm more than happy to do that. I'm not going to sit here and sulk. I'm old enough now to just get on with my job."
Fittler was happy with Walker's second stint which saw the Rabbitohs livewire produce a try assist for Jake Trbojevic when he was reintroduced to the fray with eight minutes to go.
Star of the show': Bennett defends Walker performance
Bennett's call to rest Walker in round 13 is based on the South Sydney livewire carrying "a couple of niggles", including a knee knock he reported to medical staff after full-time on Wednesday.
A week's rest will have Walker go head-to-head with Maloney next Saturday night, the very same playmaker he succeeded in the sky blue No.6 jumper.
The back fracture suffered by Rabbitohs teammate Adam Reynolds may count against Walker as well should Fittler revert to club combinations again at the scrumbase, with the Blues coach conceding his halves struggled to gel in their first game together at any level.
Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues
Walker's absence on Friday night will also see him watching fellow halves contender Mitchell Pearce from the stands as the in-form Knights skipper takes on South Sydney.
"My focus now turns to the Rabbitohs and playing my best footy to hopefully get in there for game two," Walker said.
"I thought I did a few things well but there was a couple of opportunities in defence where we let them off the hook.
"We got broken down that left edge with our D and they made a fair few breaks down that left edge.
"There's so many areas in my game that I need to improve and we'll look at them over the next couple of days and we'll nail it."