Walker’s versatility, defence could be key for Warriors in 2023

David Long



Stuff NZ Newspapers



New Warriors signing Dylan Walker is happy to keep his ‘Mr Utility’ tag at the club. Walker joins the Warriors after seven seasons at the Sea Eagles and he’s already been told by coach Andrew Webster that he sees him having an impact role off the bench in 2023. Walker can slot into multiple positions on a footy field, but rather than shying away from being labelled a versatile player, which often results in starting the game from the bench, it’s something the 28-year-old Walker embraces. ‘‘I love it,’’ Walker said. ‘‘I’ve covered most positions off and I enjoy that role, coming off the bench and adding a bit of impact. ‘‘If that’s what the team needs, then that’s what they need. I’m over here working hard and trying to build combinations with everyone and to be a good team player.’’ Walker started out as a centre and is likely to be used a fair bit in those positions, but he has the strength and speed to adapt to anywhere Webster wants to use him, including as a forward or in the halves. Utility players don’t grab as many headlines as specialist players, but they provide a vital role, especially someone like Walker, who is known for his defensive work and a big area of concern for the Warriors last year was how easily teams scored against them when attacking edges. ‘‘I started off as a centre for a few years and got those defensive movements,’’ Walker said. ‘‘I’m lucky enough to have had good coaches in the past, teaching me movements. ‘‘I like to study the game on defence and how a defensive structure can work. I’ve tried to become a problem solver and it’s pretty cool to come here, where the defensive system is a bit different, but not too different. ‘‘I enjoy that side of the game, where I have to solve it with what the coaches want and it’s been going pretty well.’’ The Warriors signed Walker on a three-year contract from this season in March 2022. The deal was done exceptionally early as Walker still had a full season left to play for the Sea Eagles. ‘‘We wanted to take our time at moving over and not rushing,’’ Walker said. ‘‘Leaving things to the last minute has probably been a trait of mine over the last few years. ‘‘But we wanted to say goodbye to friends and family and enjoy my time at Manly, because I’d spent seven years there. ‘‘I’ve enjoyed how the transition worked and I’m loving it over here.’’ Walker has a fairly outgoing personality, so making friends at the Warriors was never going to be difficult and one of the toughest parts of his move from Australia was getting used to the terrible recent weather here. ‘‘I’d met a few boys over the years, just by playing against them and I had played with a few of them,’’ he said. ‘‘So it was quite easy to transition . . . we’ve got a good crew over here. Putting on feeds and we’ve done a lot of activities outside of football. So I’ve got to know everyone on a deeper level, which is cool and exciting. I think a lot of us enjoy each other’s company, so I’m having a good time.’’