He’s no Jamie Lyon, but Manly have a killer replacement in Dylan Walker.
The Sea Eagles star signalled he will be a force to be reckoned with in the NRL this year after an eye-catching display in his side’s 22-16 trial win over South Sydney on Saturday night.
Back in his favoured right-centre role following the retirement of club legend Lyon, Walker showed serious pace to score a try and set up another in Campbelltown.
“Been working at centre the whole pre-season. It was just good to get the first hit-out tonight. Obviously worked with combinations with all the boys,” he said.
“It felt a bit more comfortable because when I first come to grade, that’s where I started.”
After moving from Redfern to the northern beaches last summer, Walker spent his entire pre-season in the halves in an attempt to get more touches.
However coach Trent Barrett soon gave up on the experiment, alternating Walker between the halves and three-quarter line, and even spent a game at fullback.
But the 22-year-old backed up a stellar showing at the Auckland Nines with another sharp display against the Rabbitohs in what looks to be a formidable right edge.
Barrett was impressed with what he said was a heavier Walker in the club’s opening trial.
“He has trained hard. He is a lot heavier than what he was last year. He has that X-factor,” he said. “That try he scored, there aren’t too many that can score them. He has worked really hard.
“He will be our right centre. That’s where he is most comfortable.”
Walker revealed he had gone back to the playing weight that helped him contribute to South Sydney’s premiership in 2014, and that he is looking forward to revelling on the flanks.
New recruit Blake Green will partner Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves.
“(I lost) around 5-6 kilos. I’ve just gone back to the normal weight that I played at a couple of years ago,” he said.
“I didn’t have to lose it (last year). It just fell off because it was more running and being on the ball. I just put it back on a little bit. I feel comfortable man.
“It’s just a bit more space out there. I got Chez and Greeny in the halves. They know the game a lot better than most of the boys in the team. It helps me a lot just being a bit more calmer out there, and getting as many opportunities as I can.”