Brumbies consider offering 43-year-old Andrew Walker full-time comeback deal

Andrew Walker playing for the Brumbies. Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Andrew Walker playing for the Brumbies. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

COULD dual international Andrew Walker, from the Shoalhaven, make a Super Rugby comeback at the age of 43?

That's the question ACT Brumbies coaches were asking themselves after seeing the ex-rugby league and rugby union star show glimpses of his best in a Brisbane 10s comeback last weekend.

Brumbies leader Stephen Larkham says the coaches were half joking at first, but conceded they genuinely started thinking about what Walker would offer to an injury-hot squad.

In what would be a shock comeback story, Larkham declared the Brumbies were "open to all options", including signing Walker, as they deal with injuries before the Super Rugby season has even started.

Walker would become the oldest player in Super Rugby history if he is called upon, but what he lacks in youth he makes up for with experience and knowledge, even if it's an unlikely scenario given his age.

If the Brumbies go down that path, the sticking point would be whether Walker could handle the day-to-day workload and what positional coverage he would offer.

But the Brumbies could also see value in having Walker as part of a training group to offer his experience.

"We haven't spoke to Walks about it, but after the first couple of games at the [Brisbane 10s], we half joked about it because he was good up here," Larkham said at the Super Rugby launch in Brisbane.

"He offers a lot to the team, that's for sure. The guys were talking about how much of an influence he was having with his directions.

"Seeing him at the [Brisbane 10s] definitely made us think. But we're not sure where that will take us."

Walker would have to be convinced he could make the step back into the professional arena more than a decade after he ended his 16-year career.

The former Wallaby showed at the Brisbane 10s he still has some of the magic that made him a cross-code sensation in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But playing a few minutes of 10s is a small step compared to the giant leap of Super Rugby even if the veteran still plays rugby league in Brisbane.

Walker, who was an at-times controversial figure in his career, would add playmaker depth and experience to a raw Brumbies roster, which has been hit by injuries to Lausii Taliauli and Tomas Cubelli.

Taliauli has been ruled out for the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament while international No. 9 Cubelli faces a four to six month stint on the sideline after a petellar tendon injury.

Larkham wants to make a decision on whether he will recruit Walker or someone else before the Super Rugby season begins on February 25.

"We would have to give him enough notice. With the positions we've got to fill without Lausii and Tomas ... we'll try to make a decision on the next two weeks on that.

"But we're open to all ideas. It's a pretty pressing decision [on bringing players in] that we need to get to."

Walker played for the Brumbies between 2000-03, helping the club win a Super Rugby championship in 2001.

He has played for St George, the Sydney Roosters and Manly in the NRL as well as a two-year stint at the Queensland Reds before he retired in 2008.

The Brumbies will be without Christian Lealiifano, Matt Toomua, Stephen Moore, David Pocock and Joe Tomane this year, leaving massive holes in their on-field leadership.

Walker could be an experienced voice for a new generation of Brumbies, some who are young enough to be Walker's sons.

Wallabies legend George Smith is making a Super Rugby comeback this year at 36 years old while cross-code convert Brad Thorn played in the National Rugby Championship last year as a 41-year-old.

Thorn still holds the record as the oldest player in Super Rugby history after ending his Canterbury Crusaders and Otago Highlanders career as a 39-year-old in 2014.

But Walker would beat him by four years if the Brumbies seriously pursue him.


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