Cody Walker hasn’t played a game of NRL for so long that he thought he was a MMA fighter, and kicked a man in the chest during a street brawl. Video footage of Walker’s kick surfaced in the mainstream media and was allegedly used in an attempt to blackmail the South Sydney player.
Walker becomes the eleventh footballer to be nominated for The Frownlow Medal since the major football codes went into a COVID-19 enforced hiatus, and his immediate future in the sport will be decided by the NRL Integrity Unit.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL player Ben Barba is the most recent recipient.
Walker alerted the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the NRL to the existence of the video as soon as he learned that someone was trying to use it to blackmail him for $20,000. He also claimed the attack on the bare-chested man was provoked by family grief and alcohol, and says he will accept any punishment that comes his way.
That punishment could prove costly for the Rabbitohs, as their star signing Latrell Mitchell is one of the 10 other footballers to have been involved in an off-field scandal during COVID-19 lockdown, and the distraction and criticism of players across social media is not what teams need as they attempt to win games during a very disrupted season.
While Walker awaits the verdict of the NRL Integrity Unit, rumours persist that his manager is attempting to line up a fight with UFC star Connor McGregor, and has asked UFC legend, and master of the standing kick, Anderson Silva, to train Walker for the fight.
What is certain is that Walker will attend the Frownlow awards ceremony later this year – where he will be required to wear a shirt.