Leeds Rhinos: Contract time well spent insists teen star Walker

Runaway success story: Leeds Rhinos teenage star, Jack Walker. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Runaway success story: Leeds Rhinos teenage star, Jack Walker. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

TEENAGE PROSPECT Jack Walker says he has no regrets about taking his time over signing a Leeds Rhinos contract.

The highly-rated 18-year-old full-back considered other offers before pledging his future to Rhinos.

Walker initially rejected a three-year full-time contract, before deciding last month to put pen to paper on a deal which will see him join Rhinos’ senior squad next year.

He has made it clear he wants to play at full-back, but with Ashton Golding – Leeds’ No1 – being on a long-term contract, there was a chance his path could be blocked.

“I think for anyone who was in the position I was in, when you’ve got someone who has got a five-year contract and has just signed the deal and has got the No1 shirt – it is a smart option to see what’s out there and look at other career paths,” Walker said.

“But I feel I have made the right choice and I am just going to try and get the No1 shirt here at the Rhinos.”

The Oulton Raiders product, who made his debut in April, has scored five tries in nine first-team appearances and was Sky TV’s man of the match when Leeds beat Hull last week.

“It’s going very well at the moment,” Walker said. “It was nice to get the man of the match.

“It was like a dream come true really. You push yourself throughout your career and playing for Leeds Rhinos at home and coming out with man of the match, especially against a very tough Hull side, I could not ask for much more.

“Every time I go out on the field I push myself and I do everything I can for the team. If I get the man of the match it is a bonus, but I just go out and give my all.”

Walker has come a long distance in a short space of time, but insisted he is not getting carried with what he has achieved this year.

“I don’t need people to be keeping my feet on the ground,” he stressed. I have got a long way to go. I am still striving for that No1 shirt.

“I have got to keep working hard and building my performances, but I don’t see why – in maybe a year or two – I can’t get that.”

Walker has been preferred to Golding at full-back for Rhinos’ past two games and is hoping to keep his spot for Friday’s derby at Castleford Tigers.

He was an unused substitute in the home meeting with the league leaders and said: “It will be a good experience if I play.

“It is Cas and I see them as the big derby game.

“They are top of the league and they’ve beaten us a few times this year.

“We want to get one back on them, but we will just go out and do our best.”

Meanwhile, Walker is one of the nominees for the 2017 Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star award, which honours the young player who has made the biggest contribution for Rhinos this season.

Also on the shortlist are props Jordan Baldwinson and Mikolaj Oledzki and full-back Golding. The winner will be announced at Rhinos’ presentation evening on Monday, September 18, along with other awards including the club’s player of the year.

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