Take it easy.
That’s Trent Barrett’s message to new Manly playmaker Dylan Walker ahead of his NRL debut at five-eighth against Canterbury on Friday night.
One of round one’s main talking points will be the performance of Walker alongside his new Sea Eagles halves partner Daly Cherry-Evans.
Manly coach Barrett is expecting a measured approach.
Walker has starred as an attacking centre in the NRL, winning a premiership and playing for Australia in the position.
But his move alongside Cherry-Evans looms as a fresh and demanding challenge, especially considering the weight of expectation on the Sea Eagles this year after their impressive off-season roster overhaul.
Sporting the Rabbitohs logo tattooed on his left foot and Souths 2014 premiership ink on his right arm, the Souths junior will always have a strong bond with the Redfern club.
“I won’t lie to you, it will be different to play for someone other than Souths but I am very comfortable where I am at the moment,” Walker said at Manly’s Narrabeen base on Monday.
“Having a champion five-eighth as a coach has been a real help and given me a lot of confidence.
“I think it will bring out the best in me, I have played junior football there, but having a full pre-season under my belt with the whole squad has been really important too.”
Barrett played 235 NRL games, 11 State of Origin matches for NSW and 15 Tests for Australia at five-eighth.
Shaping Walker as an influential playmaker in the NRL will be among Barrett’s biggest challenges this year.
“We have had a lot of chats, he doesn’t want me to worry about anyone else’s expectations, he just wants me to play footy,” Walker said of Barrett’s advice.
“He said I’m not here to go out there and come up with the miracle play straight away, that is going to come up as our combinations get stronger.
“‘Baz’ just wants me to play my natural game.”