Manly's Dylan Walker says he has no plans to take a back seat directing the team around the park despite playing alongside seasoned halfback Daly Cherry-Evans.
The duo will form a new-look combination for the Sea Eagles when they play their round one match against Canterbury on Friday night. It will be just the fourth time Walker has started at five-eighth as he makes a permanent switch into the halves from centre.
New role: Dylan Walker will be adapting to the five-eighth position. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
Walker said he wanted to share the playmaking duties with Cherry-Evans.
"We are both going to take control," he said. "Chez [Cherry-Evans] is pretty dominant. He knows his combinations better than I do. I've been working on it hard. That's something that I really had to work hard on. Cherry's a good general play kick and very smart."
For Cherry-Evans, Walker's arrival signals a changing of the guard, with the Manly No.7 having spent the bulk of his NRL career alongside Kieran Foran. Despite starring as a junior at five-eighth, Walker was settled in the centres, winning a premiership for the Rabbitohs and representing Australia. He believed the spot was to be his long-term position.
"Things change," Walker said. "This is probably the position I'll be training and playing for a while."
While Cherry-Evans has been a huge influence on Walker's transition, no one has been more important than coach Trent Barrett. The former representative five-eighth has spent plenty of time working alongside his new recruit.
"Having a champion five-eighth as a coach has been a real help and given me a lot of confidence," Walker said of Barrett. "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."
"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. 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 [Barrett] just wants me to play my natural game."
Manly are expected to be without fullback Brett Stewart who, alongside skipper Jamie Lyon, missed training on Monday. Lyon will play, while Tom Trbojevic and Api Koroisau are also expected to be passed fit. Walker will line up against niggly Canterbury half Josh Reynolds in what will be his first look at Brookvale Oval as a Manly player.
"I copped a bit of lip [from Reynolds when I was] playing in the centres," Walker said. "There will probably be words exchanged. 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.
"As an opposition player, it's a pretty daunting task [playing at Brookvale Oval]. Finally I get to go there to be cheered instead of booed. Haven't had the chance to train there."
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