Teenager Walker savours his de­but hat-trick for Rhi­nos

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - RUGBY LEAGUE - PETER SMITH

A HAT-TRICK of tries on his Leeds Rhi­nos de­but capped a re­mark­able come­back from in­jury by teenager Jack Walker.

The 17-year-old be­came only the eighth Leeds player to cross three times in his first ap­pear­ance for the club when Rhi­nos eased past third tier Don­caster 64-28 in the Chal­lenge Cup fifth round.

Called into the side af­ter first and sec­ond-choice full­backs Ash­ton Gold­ing and Liam Sut­cliffe were ruled out, along with winger Tom Briscoe, Walker went over the white­wash three times in suc­ces­sion in the first half. It was an eye-catch­ing ef­fort by the young­ster, who is not a mem­ber of Leeds’ full-time squad and had trained with his team-mates only three times be­fore the match, but he re­vealed an ac­ci­dent four years ago al­most ended his ca­reer be­fore it be­gan.

There were fears he would not play again af­ter he suf­fered a frac­tured skull play­ing for am­a­teur club Oul­ton in an un­der-14s match and Walker re­called: “I was play­ing full-back, against Hunslet War­riors.

“They made a break down the blind side, I went in for a tackle and I’ve been told I got a knee to the head.

“I got knocked out, my eyes went back and I had a seizure on the pitch.

“I woke up on the pitch and, wait­ing for the am­bu­lance, I couldn’t feel the right side of my body.

“When I got in the am­bu­lance I threw up, but I felt fine af­ter that.

“The main thing on my mind af­ter­wards has been aim­ing for [his de­but] for a very long time.

“It’s all I’ve been work­ing for – it’s what all the hard work has been about.

“A lot of peo­ple told me to think of a dif­fer­ent ca­reer, but I just kept with rugby and it has been worth­while.”

Walker de­scribed his de­but hat-trick as “the best thing that could have hap­pened to me”.

He added: “I have been work­ing hard, do­ing ex­tras be­fore and af­ter train­ing and that has paid off.

“I trained with the first team in a cou­ple of ses­sions be­fore Mon­day’s game and then on Thurs­day.

“The lads are all sup­port­ive and they helped me out a lot.

“I’m work­ing hard ev­ery train­ing ses­sion and I’ll see what comes up; if the first team want me to play with them I’ll do a job or if it’s 19s, I’ll step in and help out.”

Rhi­nos coach Brian McDermott also praised Walker say­ing his de­but was the best he had seen since Ste­vie Ward’s.

Mean­while, Don­caster coach Gary Thorn­ton is hop­ing his team’s per­for­mance af­ter the break at Head­in­g­ley will in­spire im­proved form in League One.

Rhi­nos led 44-4 at half-time, but Don­caster outscored them 24-20 in the fi­nal 40 min­utes.

“I am re­ally pleased, I thought the sec­ond half per­for­mance was ex­cel­lent,” Thorn­ton said.

“We’ve been a bit down in the dumps in the last few weeks.

“We’ve had some poor per­for­mances, cer­tainly against Toronto and York, so we tried to go to Leeds in pos­i­tive mood.

“I thought we showed some ex­cel­lent spirit and to­geth­er­ness and to come out and win the sec­ond half I thought was re­ally, re­ally cred­i­ble for us.”

JACK WALKER: Leeds rookie scored a hat-trick on his de­but for the Rhi­nos against Don­caster.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.