Australian Sevens speedster Shannon Walker has ignored the allure of the 2016 Rio Olympics, where Rugby Sevens will makes its debut, to pursue a return to the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans.
The Indigenous flyer was tipped for stardom after winning the Queensland Cup Player of the Year award in 2007, the season he scored two tries in the Tweed Heads’ grand final triumph.
But he managed just four first grade games for the Titans from 2008-10 – largely due to injuries, not to mention overbearing expectations – before taking up a Sevens contract with the ARU.
A freakish talent described as one of the fastest players ever to play in the NRL, Walker has been a regular crowd-pleaser on the IRB Sevens circuit over the past four years.
Walker will go back to his roots by playing for the Tweed Heads Seagulls – one of the Titans’ main feeder clubs – in the 2016 InTrust Super Cup premiership.
The Titans are light on strike-power out wide following the retirement of Kevin Gordon and the departure of Kalifa Faifai Loa, and the elusive Walker’s pace and instinctive brilliance would be a welcome addition to the struggling club’s modest roster.
The Kyogle-born Walker will likely be competing with David Mead, Anthony Don and Nene MacDonald for an NRL berth on the wing, while he remains a fullback option for the Titans if Josh Hoffman fails to impress.
A look back at his league and union journey to date underlines the 26-year-old excitement machine’s potential.