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Chris Walker on game day: 'I get a bit emotional'

"Today is a great day... I live in Queensland, so I'm excited."

The colour maroon - and this time of year - means so much to FOG #122 Chris Walker.

It has been 21 years since Walker ran out for the Queensland Maroons - he played six games across 2001 and 2002 - and he is as passionate about the team now as he was when he was playing.

"It was 22 years ago, since I debuted for Queensland at the old Lang Park... I remember the game day pretty vividly," Walker said.

"I remember, just being excited to be representing Queensland... I'm getting a bit emotional actually talking about it... representing the state, representing my family who are going to be sitting in the crowd.

"It's a lot different than playing for your club because you know, not everyone in Queensland used to go for the team that you played for. So it was a massive difference because you're representing every single person in Queensland and abroad that goes for Queensland.

"And there's a lot... there's only two states to go for. So, you know you're representing your family, you're representing the whole state... that was the biggest thing for me.

"I just remember thinking to myself, to be able to put myself in this position to play for Queensland, but ultimately, you're out there representing your family and, and your state and you want to do the best for them and just being excited, you know, was playing at Lang Park."

Walker said he grew up watching his dad play rugby league and wanted to make him and everyone proud.

"I grew up watching my dad play... my dad played the 1980 grand final, so it had a bit of a significance to me and to put on that, that jersey on, on game day, was was the best," Walker said.

"I still remember it. It was awesome."

Whilst game day looks a little different for Walker now, he spends the day thinking about what the team will be doing - getting up, going on a the team walk, mentally preparing, having a nap - and it pumps him up for the game.

"During the day, I obviously think about what the boys are doing.. obviously going for team walk or playing team cricket or whatever they do, kick some footy in the park, just wasting the time before probably the biggest 80 minutes of your life to go there, to represent your state," Walker said.

"I often think to myself, you know what I'd be doing on game day back when I was playing... whether it be sitting around with your mates or having a coffee with Lote Tuqiri or Wendell Sailor, one of those guys in the team, you're sort of counting down the hours.

"You try to work out when you have a bit of a sleep in the afternoon for 45 minutes to an hour and then that intensity walking into the team room at the hotel and then getting the call to say 'this is it boys, let's go'. It was awesome. 

"There was just something inside you that just used to just jump out at you and they go 'you know what, here we go, boys, we're on' and I'd look at guys, I remember looking at guys like Alfie (Allan Langer) when he came back, look at guys like Gorden Tallis, these guys who haj been around in the Queensland jersey for a number of years before I got there.

"And then the last person you'd look at was Wayne Bennett and you knew that you were right because he prepared you the whole week before you got that call to get on the bus and then travelling on that bus to go to the field, nothing beats it.

"Absolutely nothing beats that feeling. It's unbelievable."

Walker said the team now - and the coaching staff now in Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Josh Hannay and Nate Myles - were a group that could "get the job done".

"You look at the coaching staff... you start at the top, you got Billy, then you've got  JT, Cam Smith, Nate Miles. These guys have been there, they've done it, they've prepared, they've been players, they've been out on the coaching staff," Walker said.

Walker scores for the Maroons. Photo: NRL Imagery
Walker scores for the Maroons. Photo: NRL Imagery

"As an outsider looking in, you know that they're going to be prepared, they're going to be primed because these guys that are looking after after the team have been there before, they know what to do to get it done.

"I have every bit of confidence in the coaching staff right down to the 18th man.

"I'm really excited to see how things go and see how things pan out. I know we can get the win. We've got the team to do it. Go Queensland."


Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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