It’s a long way from the Rio Olympics but former Australian rugby sevens star Shannon Walker is excited about returning to rugby league at the NRL Auckland Nines this weekend.
Walker turned his back on his Olympic dream last year after five years with Australia’s sevens team.
The 27-year-old admits leaving the sevens program so close to the Olympics was a wrench but spending more time with his young family was the priority.
“It was just getting tough and expensive to keep travelling and stuff,” Walker said on Wednesday.
“With my daughter, we were based in Brisbane so I was sometimes doing drop-offs and pick-ups with her at daycare. That was something I really looked forward to.
“Then we had the little fella and, first boy, that’s what I want to be doing. I just didn’t get to spend the time with him that I got to with my daughter. That hit home.”
Walker has spent the summer training with Gold Coast in a bid to restart his NRL career at the Titans.
The speedster made just four appearances for the Titans in three NRL seasons.
Still to secure a long-term contract with the club, Walker has a major chance to impress at this weekend’s Nines tournament.
“The whole pre-season gig is to impress in every area you can,” he said.
“Just trying to give it one last crack … I’m just looking forward to it. It’s going to be a similar transition to sevens.”
Two players who won’t be travelling across the Tasman with Walker are Ryan James and Will Zillman.
The pair were ruled out with minor injuries on Wednesday with Jeff Lynch and Anthony Don their late replacements.