Mixed blessings for Walker
IT WAS always going to be a case of rocks or diamonds but unfortunately the bad outweighed the good when Shannon Walker returned to the NRL for the Gold Coast Titans at the weekend.
After two-years in rugby league purgatory, the lightning-quick Kyogle junior was named on the bench for the Titans big clash with St George Illawarra.
And about 25 minutes into the match coach John Cartwright called his name.
A four player positional interchange saw the 21-year-old thrust into the action at his preferred fullback position where he would be called on to extinguish the best kicking game in the country – that of Jamie Soward.
But Walker struggled.
His first input was a dropped bomb as the Dragons chasers bore down on him – only a refereeing blunder saved Walker as Matt Cooper appeared to score.
Walker then made a few darts out of dummy-half and a 30-metre break downfield but the play died with no support.
But there was another blunder.
Attempting to field a bouncing ball in soggy conditions Walker used his foot to flick the Steeden into his hands – that part worked but as he took off the ball came free and the Dragons were handed another shot at the Titans line.
Luckily for Walker the Titans held the Dragons out and prevailed with an 11-10 win in golden point extra time to keep their season alive.
When quizzed on the input of his potential game-breaker, Cartwright chose to focus on the positives.
“Shannon had his moments,” he said.
“The plan was to use him for a couple of 10 minute stints and I thought he was sharp in some of the things he did.”
But the nerves were there for all to see and Walker would likely be better utilised in a starting role where his nervous energy has no time to fester.