Former Origin star Walker to fire Jets in 2015
HE is a former State of Origin star and the brother of the Ipswich Jets coaches, but Chris Walker expects no preferential treatment during the 2015 Intrust Super Cup campaign.
The 34-year-old looked in fine fettle when the Jets returned to pre-season training on Monday and is committed to earning his spot in the side coached by Ben and Shane Walker.
"They are my brothers but when it comes to football, my performance and whether I warrant being in the team I know where I stand," Walker said.
"We have sat down and spoken about it, and if they have to make the tough decision to drop me or not play me then that judgement is not going to be clouded by the fact I am their brother.
"They are going to come down on me harder than what they would with any other player in the team, and that makes me want to go out and perform for them.
"It is a team sport and they have to do what is best for the team."
Walker retired from playing at the end of the 2011 season after 151 NRL games with the Broncos, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Storm, Titans and Eels, and six State of Origin matches for the Maroons.
Now the business he runs, Walker Brothers Earthworks, is thriving and he has no qualms about returning to the playing arena.
The desire to pull on the boots again was too great to ignore.
"I retired from the big leagues in 2011 and the reason I retired is because my business was starting to take off and I was to trying to run it and play football at the same time, which became too difficult," he said.
"But I have got the business to where I want it to be, and where it should be, and I've got some middle managers at the moment that take that pressure off me.
"The first year and a bit after I retired I didn't think about playing football too much because I was focussed on the business, but now I have a burning desire to get back and play in the Queensland Cup and see where it takes me."
Walker said he was both excited by the prospect of playing under the innovative coaching style of his brothers and invigorated by the enthusiasm of the young Jets.
"I am 34 years of age, but I'm running around training with the likes of Marmin Barba and Wes Conlon and all these younger players, and bouncing of their enthusiasm," he said.
"That is why I want to come back and play.
"The Jets play an entertaining style of football and off the cuff.
"Ben and Shane's style of football is enterprising. People know what they are doing within the team and I am looking forward to being part of that structure.
"The great thing about the Jets is that they are a close-knit club. I've played at a number of NRL clubs and the successful ones have a tight-knit bunch."
Walker has been training in the centres and on the wing. As an outside back he was a try scoring whiz in the NRL, with 81 tries. He has kept himself in good nick, while admitting he has a way to go to get where he needs to be.
"I've got a few kilos to lose here, there and everywhere but I have been working with (Titans captain) Nate Myles at his gym on the Gold Coast called Functional 45 . I do 10 classes a week there along with the training I do at the Jets.
"My body feels unreal. I feel like a 20-year-old and I am looking forward to putting in a big year with the Jets."