Sports

Now 43, Andrew Walker is Plotting a Super Rugby Comeback with the Brumbies

"The fire is still blazing, as soon as I threw the jumper on last weekend it turned into a bonfire."
February 15, 2017, 11:34pm
Rugby.com.au/YouTube

Even though he'd be old enough to be the father of most of his team mates, dual Australian rugby and league international Andrew Walker admits the "fire is still blazing" for a Super Rugby comeback this year.

Despite having not played professional rugby since 2008, Walker - 43 - pulled on the ACT Brumbies jumper at last weekend's Brisbane Tens tournament.

Walker, who played for the Brumbies between 2000 and 2003 after he swapped over rugby league, is far from the counter-attacking machine he was during his glory days. Yet he did show an impressive level of fitness on the paddock that could translate into being a potential deep bench option for his old team.

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"The fire is still blazing, as soon as I threw the jumper on last weekend it turned into a bonfire," Walker told Fairfax Media.

"I was thinking, 'how good is this?' I really, really love the Brumbies so if there was anything I could do to help, then I'd do it in a heartbeat."

A post-match interview with Andrew Walker during the Brisbane Tens last weekend. Source: Youtube.

Here's the thing: there's clear potential that Walker, who played for the St George Dragons and Sydney Roosters in the NSWRL and NRL between 1992 and 1999, could get that chance, too.

Only weeks before the start of the 2017 Super Rugby season, the Brumbies have suffered injuries to outside backs Lausii Taliauli and Tomas Cubelli – meaning cover is definitely needed.

Brumbies coach, and former teammate, Stephen Larkham is yet to talk contracts with the former Wallaby – but admitted Walker's comeback had crossed his mind.

"He offers a lot to the team, that's for sure," Larkham also told Fairfax Media.

"The guys were talking about how much of an influence he was having with his directions. Seeing him at the [Brisbane 10s] definitely made us think. But we're not sure where that will take us."

.— RUGBYcomau (@rugbycomau)February 12, 2017

If Walker was to get back on the Super Rugby field this year, he would, quite easily, become the oldest player in the competition's history.

Former All Black, and Brisbane Broncos cult hero, Brad Thorn was 39 when he played for the Otago Highlanders in 2014. Walker would smash that record.

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"I did see that statistic. I've always loved a bit of history, I'll take it," the one-test Wallaby said.

Legendary Wallabies flanker George Smith - now 36 - has been recruited to play for the Reds in 2017, so there is precedent, this season, for elder Super Rugby statesmen getting back in the mix.

Since his official retirement from rugby in 2008, Walker has lived in Brisbane where he has been playing lower-grade league for Ipswich. As evidenced in Brisbane last week, he has kept his body in good nick.

The veteran fullback says he is open to whatever transpires.

Andrew Walker on Josua Tuisova: 'The boys told me he was a bus and I reckon he's a bus with a semi-trailer on the back'. — Beth Newman (@bethknewman)February 11, 2017

"I know it's a big ask to be coming back at 43 years old, but my body is holding up really well. I was a bit sore after the Tens but I'm already training again," Walker said.

"If Bernie [Larkham] came with a contract, I'd be firing. I have been thinking about it … it's a matter of me thinking 'can I do it?'. I think I can. I have looked after myself since I finished playing professionally and the fire in the belly really fired up when I got to play in the 10s.

"There are a lot of new guys at the Brumbies and what I noticed out there was that they weren't talking that much. I think that's where Bernie would love to have me, to help the kids. If it does happen, it will give a bit extra. It would bring the youth back out in me again.

"It's a big ask and I'm not saying I wouldn't do it … I'd put that jumper on again in a heartbeat."