Walker: I feel like a union player now
By Mick Donohoe
Former Gold Coast Titans rugby league player Shannon Walker returns to his old stomping ground this weekend for the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast.
After serving his ‘apprenticeship’ with Michael O’Connor’s developing squad, the former Australian Schoolboy rugby league representative from rural Kyogle says he is ready to make his mark on the world stage.
“It was tough at the start, I didn’t get the rules down pat but having a coach like Mick O’Connor with a league background made it a bit easier for me, coming from league myself,” Walker said.
“I’m still learning the rules here and there but Mick is teaching me along the way, just picking up the little things in the games that most people don’t see.”
There could be no better mentor for Walker, with dual international O’Connor playing 13 Tests for the Wallabies before playing over 200 first grade games in rugby league along with 17 internationals in the green and gold for the Kangaroos.
“I do feel like a union player now,” Walker said. “I’ve only played one fifteen-a-side game for my club Easts Tigers in Brisbane and was hoping to get a few more but a few injuries kept me out. Hopefully I can get a few more in next year.”
While injuries hampered Walker’s rugby league career and also prevented him from playing in last year’s inaugural Gold Coast Sevens a concentrated pre-season effort on the training paddock and in the gym has the 23 year-old primed to live up to his precocious talent - once described as the fastest player in the National Rugby League.
Meet Shannon Walker
“It’s been a year and a bit now and I am pretty much enjoying myself in Sevens. Winning in Tokyo (Tokyo Sevens 2011) was pretty amazing. Just to get through with the numbers we had, it was a courageous effort in the end.
“The boys kept dropping with injuries left, right and centre. I think we were down to one man on the bench. All the boys had to dig deep and fight their fears and pull through and we ended up coming up with a win.”
Away from the hustle and bustle of the Sevens World Series, Walker describes himself as a family man.
“All our training is intense so I like to chill out and try and get as much rest as I can especially with my daughter Mylie, she is intense,” Walker explains.
“I also tend to do a lot of fishing with my mates and put down a few crab pots, go to the beach and just hang out with the boys.”
While Walker initially had reservations about the amount of travel involved in the World Series he has gradually adapted to life on the road.
“The best place so far was Hong Kong, my first tournament. That was pretty massive and an eye opener.
“The place I am looking forward to going to is Wellington. They say it is pretty massive. I’d love to get a run over there.”
The quick-witted Walker is also a strong proponent of the old saying, ‘happy wife, happy life,’ soon working out the key to wife Casie’s support.
“A lot of perfume, a few shoes, a lot of hats… whatever she puts in her order before I go to keep her happy!”
Hosts Australia is drawn in Pool B and expects three tough pool games against Tonga, Scotland and defending champions Fiji.
“That’s what you play Sevens for, it comes back to one-on-one defence and one-on-one attack, so I am looking forward to the challenge,” Walker said.
So, can the Wallabies win?
“Definitely, I think we can win, we have a red hot chance here coming off two wins in the lead up to the series so hopefully we can come up with a win,” Walker said.
“Playing in my home town, my home stadium is going to be a special weekend for me. My whole family is coming up so it will be a pretty special weekend all round.”
13-14 October 2012
Venue: Skilled Park
City: Gold Coast