Damien Cook was the first player at Cody Walker’s side when it became apparent he was in a seriously bad way.
The NSW five-eighth lay prone on the turf when he was knocked out making a tackle in the 76th minute of Queensland’s 20-14 win in Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider.
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Walker was flat on his stomach and had not moved after being accidentally collected by Blues teammate Angus Crichton. The referee blew time off as medicos rushed to the playmaker’s aid — as did his South Sydney teammate Cook.
The NSW hooker held Walker’s hand as he was assessed, comforting his mate for more than 15 seconds until being ushered away to make room for more medical staff.
The Blues were six points down and had less than five minutes to save the series but in this moment, compassion was more important than football for Cook.
Walker never returned as Queensland secured a stunning series win, but post-match coach Brad Fittler provided a promising update.
“Cody is on the phone to his wife at the moment, so that’s a good sign,” Fittler said.
“He’s a bit vague on a lot of the game at the moment. It’ll be monitored over the next day or so, but it was a heavy knock.”
Walker’s partner also took to Instagram to let people know he was doing better.
“Hi everyone, it’s Nellie. I’ve just spoken with Cody and he’s asked me to let you all know he’s alright,” she wrote.
“Thank you to everyone for checking in on him and all the messages and well wishes.”
Walker’s concussion was the last thing NSW needed as they searched desperately for a match-levelling try in the dying minutes, and came after fullback and captain James Tedesco was ruled out of the match after suffering a brutal head knock in the 20th minute.
Maroons forward Jai Arrow came under fire for banging Tedesco’s head into the turf after his scary blow, but defended himself after the match, saying he had no idea the Blues skipper was in such a bad way.
“I was fired up and obviously I’ve been told some comments were made about Tedesco and I just want to come out and say at first I was fired up and I, honestly, personally, am not a grub like that,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I actually didn’t know he was knocked out. If you actually watch the full footage you watch me go back and put my hand up.
“I was checking his welfare because I actually realised he was knocked out when I sort of slammed him back on the ground, which I’m very apologetic about.
“When I was speaking to him after the game I said, ‘Look mate, I’m sorry I didn’t realise you were knocked out until probably a couple of seconds after I threw him back on the ground’.
“People are always going to have comments about it but I know myself, I know what I do as a player, I’m not out there to try and hurt someone intentionally.”
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