Wakefield Wildcats: Walker’s Wildcats move has Brown’s approval

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FORMER BOSS Nathan Brown has given his seal of approval to Anthony Walker’s move to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats from St Helens, the front-rower has revealed.

Walker joined Wildcats last month as one of new nine players brought in since Brian Smith was named coach at the end of May. And the 23-year-old said Brown – who coached Saints to the Super League title last year before returning to his native Australia – had backed the move as a way of the youngster learning his trade under one of the sport’s most respected coaches.

Anthony Walker

Anthony Walker

“I knew who he was, but I hadn’t heard too much about him,” Walker said of Smith. “When I spoke to some of the lads at St Helens about coming here, they said ‘he was my coach, he’s really good’. I got a text off Nathan Brown wishing me all the best and saying Brian was his coach and he knows what he’s on about. Me and Brian have got on well since I got here, so it is going good.”

Walker could make his fourth appearance for Wildcats away to Huddersfield Giants tomorrow. He reckons the decision to switch from title contenders to relegation battlers has been the right one and will be keen to remain at Wakefield if he gets the chance.

“It is good,” said Walker, who is contracted until the end of the season. “The travel’s not great, I have to travel an hour and a half each day, but other than that, the lads have helped me fit in, I get on with everybody and I am enjoying it. I am playing rugby, which is the main reason I came here. I hadn’t played Super League in over 12 months, I had a knee reconstruction and I was playing in Championship One for Rochdale. I was enjoying that, playing with lads I grew up with, but I want to be playing Super League. I spoke to my agent and to Saints and the best way to play Super League was to find somewhere that’s short of players. I spoke to Brian, met him and we got on well and he has put me in ever since, so it’s going good. I have come here to play rugby and I’ve played every week. I am happy here, I am enjoying it and if the offer’s there for next year and everything’s going good, I’ll be happy to take it.”

Tomorrow’s game is Wildcats’ final First Utility Super League fixture before they put their top-flight status on the line in the Qualifiers. Walker said: “We’ve had a good week’s training and after last week’s disappointment we need to bounce back and play the best we can. All the lads know that, we’ve trained tough and we should give them a good game.”

Walker is confident Wildcats will avoid the drop. He added: “That’s one of the reasons I came here. A team like Wakefield should be in Super League. I’d like to be a part of helping them stay up.”

New signings Lee Smith, Bill Tupou and Scott Moore are included in Wildcats’ squad. Chris Riley, Michael Sio, Chris Annakin, Craig Hall and Matty Ashurst could be recalled, with Kevin Locke, Jordan Tansey, Tim Smith, Stuart Howarth, Ali Lauitiiti and the departed Paul McShane dropping out.

Huddersfield Giants from: McGillvary, Cudjoe, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Huby, Hughes, Bailey, Lawrence, Kopczak, Ta’ai, Broughton, Ellis, Leeming, Mason, Roberts, Simpson, Smith.

Wakefield Wildcats from: Anderson, Annakin, Arundel, Ashurst, Hall, Johnstone, Lyne, Miller, Molloy, Moore, Mullally, Riley, Scruton, Simon, Sio, L Smith, Tupou, Walker, Washbrook.

Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow (St Helens). Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.