Walker proud to show way
ANDREW Walker has a Kangaroos jersey and Wallabies jumper in his closet but come Sunday, nothing will give him more pride than his maroon Fassifern Bombers one.
The veteran of 145 NRL/ARL games will lead Fassifern's charge to possible IRL glory against perennial grand finalists Brothers at North Ipswich Reserve. Walker told the QT he wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
"For someone like me who has played internationally in two codes, now this is a chance to come back and share what I learned with a bunch of young guys," Walker said.
"Personally, the reason I'm here is all about grass roots footy.
"To come back and play in this type of competition is great. This is where we all started before we got to the NRL or Super Rugby.
"I rate it very highly because this is where footy starts. It's something that makes me really happy.
"I hope the boys get a lot out of playing with me."
The 38-year-old is widely considered one of the most talented, and sometimes wayward, players to grace the fields of Australian rugby league over the last two decades.
Since arriving in Ipswich, Walker has embraced the region and the Ipswich Rugby League.
After one season with the Goodna Eagles, Walker transferred to Fassifern and has now led the country club to consecutive grand finals.
Despite living at North Ipswich, he said his time at Harrisville, 30 minutes south of Ipswich, had been some of the most enjoyable of his football career.
"Being in a small community, it's very tight out there," Walker said.
"It's like one big happy family.
"They've taken everyone in, treat us like family. I really enjoy the drive out there and look forward to training and games."
Walker's impact on the competition hasn't been restricted to the Bombers.
IRL operations manager Brendan Rose said the former St George, Manly and Sydney Roosters player had helped focus extra attention on the proud regional competition.
"For a guy like him to keep running around in a comp like ours gives us extra credibility and helps lift the standard of the players he plays with and against," Rose said.
"He has mates that have played NRL so he talks to them and tells them about our comp.
"We'd love to see more guys come back and give back to local league the way he has.
"For young kids, they see a dual international wearing a Fassifern and Diggers (Ipswich representative team) jersey.
"It just makes them think 'I can do that'.
"After our Diggers team lost to Brisbane, he was deeply hurt.
"Only a bloke who is truly committed feels that way."