Walker back from injury and ready to fight for place
Alun Walker put almost a year on the side-lines behind him as he made a welcome return to action in the 40-11 win against Pontypridd on Saturday, following 10 months out with injury.
The Scottish hooker played about 60 minutes in the win at Sardis Road, his first action for Ben Ward’s team since the the home match against Tynedale in November 2014.
“It’s the longest I’ve been out with an injury, ” Walker said. “It’s nice to be back, getting back in and getting involved in the squad with the boys.
“The knee held up fine, so there’s no real worries about that. I was blowing a bit, but it was the first run out for nearly a year and just nice to be back.”
Ealing Trailfinders ran in six tries and added five conversions in the match against the Welsh champions. There was a try for new prop George Porter, while fellow new faces Alex Davies and Sam Stanley knocked over five conversions between them.
They had to dig deep in the first 20 minutes as the hosts dominated, but once Porter’s try gave Ward’s side the lead at 14-11, they didn’t look back and Tom Wheatcroft, Arthur Ellis, Phil Chesters twice and Alex Penny added tries of their own to ensure a happy journey back down the M4.
“Going there we knew a bit about them and that they were a tough side, ” Walker said. “It was nice to see the new boys integrating with the old faces. George Porter got a dot-down and then there was Phil Chesters who never ceases to amaze and managed to get two on the board.
“I don’t think we played anywhere near how we can play, but the boys are learning from one another and there is a lot more to come. It is just good to see everyone integrating well to get a good win at the end.”
With the Greene King IPA Championship season kicking off away to Rotherham Titans on 6 September, Walker is set for a fair scrap just to earn a place in the matchday squad, let alone the starting XV.
Since he last played the club has brought in England ‘A’ international Matt Thompson and former Wales U20 international Rhys Lawrence, while Karl Gibson is one of the remaining faces in the squad from the last time the team played in the Championship.
“The competition came with Rhys from Bristol, who has a very good calibre, is very agile around the pitch and makes his tackles, ” Walker said. “Thommo (Thompson) is an old head, which every team needs. He is a big guy, the biggest hooker we have here, so there is stiff competition. Gippa (Gibson) has really come into his own now and really learning about the game and learns a lot off Thommo.
“I think as we go through the season it will become more competitive as we go and I’m looking forward to the competition.”