Chris Walker getting stronger at Titans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Chris Walker getting stronger at Titans

By Laine Clark 10/02/2009 07:35:22 AM Comments (0)

The long wait is over for recovering Gold Coast Titans winger Chris Walker - sort of.

The former Queensland Origin flyer is set to play rugby league for the first time since August 2007 after receiving the nod for the Titans' opening NRL trial against Brisbane at Wynnum on Saturday night.

But Walker may still need to show plenty of patience before he tastes official NRL action again, judging by Titans coach John Cartwright.

The Gold Coast mentor has adopted a "softly, softly" approach with the injury-plagued Walker, all but ruling him out of NRL contention for the first six rounds.

But an earlier comeback would not surprise Cartwright after watching the 28-year-old fight his way back from not one but two serious Achilles injuries.

Walker has dropped down to 91kg in the pre-season - his playing weight when he last played for Queensland in 2002.

"He's in the best shape I have seen him. He has a real presence about him at the moment," Cartwright told AAP.

"The hardest bit at the moment is trying to slow him down, keeping a lid on him - if you know Chris you know that is a very difficult thing to do."

Cartwright said he would keep an open mind when he alternates all eight of his wingers throughout the trial against the Broncos - Walker, namesake Shannon Walker, Brenton Bowen, Jordan Atkins, Esi Tonga, David Mead, Kevin Gordon and Ben Jeffery.

But the Titans coach said he was "not looking for any miracles" from Chris Walker.

"He hasn't played for close to two years. He's come off two major operations," he said.

"I have more or less told him he has to get out of his head probably the first six games of the year.

"He's got to get the feel of the game again .

"The game does change every year and it has been two years since he has played.

"When the time is right we will all know."

Keen to make up for lost time, Walker has hit the training paddock with a vengeance - complete with new mohawk and goatee beard.

But clearly he will need to do more to turn heads with the likes of young challengers Gordon at the club.

Gordon, 21, has been dubbed "Flash" after officially becoming the club's fastest player.

He also knows how to score - he crossed 21 times in as many under 20s games in 2008, more than half the team's total tries scored.

"It is competitive for spots in the outside backs," Cartwright said.

"These guys have got to go out and make a name for themselves."

The 26-strong Titans squad also boasts new recruits, forwards Sam Tagataese (Melbourne) and Matt White (Newcastle).

Sacked Broncos hooker Ian Lacey - who was recently offered a one year incentive-based deal - will start at No.9.

With the likes of star halves Mat Rogers and Scott Prince rested, Jordan Rankin, 17, will wear No.7 fresh from becoming the third youngest player ever to make his first grade debut when he ran out against Newcastle in August 2008.

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