13th November 2017, 20:11
WALKER JOINS HORNETS IN COACHING ROLE
Rochdale Hornets can announce that recently retired rugby league star Anthony Walker has joined the club as a development coach.
Rochdale Hornets have added Anthony Walker to their coaching staff, as he joins the club as a development coach following his early retirement.
The former St Helens, Wakefield Trinity, Hornets, Whitehaven, Dewsbury Rams and Wales forward revealed via twitter that he had been forced to hang up his boots due to an abnormality on his brain.
It was a medical condition which meant Walker should never have took part in contact sports, and after a nasty collision in Rochdale’s win over Swinton Lions in July, CT scans revealed a bleed on the brain.
It was a traumatic experience for the loose forward who was in fine form, however just one day before he was due to head to the World Cup he received heart-breaking news.
“It was really hard to take, especially finding out the day before I was supposed to go to Australia with Wales,” he revealed.
“I struggled the first day or two, but then I realised I have a nice family at home and there is more to life than rugby.
“My career was going to come to an end at some point, mine was just about seven years short.
“It was tough thinking you’re never going to put your gum-shield in and boots on ever again.
“I enjoyed my rugby with Rochdale and I’d hit some form, so I wanted to go back full-time if I could have.
“All good things come to an end though.”
Walker made 11 appearances during the 2017 season, having joined on loan for the business end of the campaign, and was a crucial part of their survival in the Championship.
He had also featured five times in 2015, scoring one try, however his debut season with the club came on dual registration from Saints in 2014.
During that year he wore Hornets’ colours 17 times and crossed the try-line twice, quickly becoming a fan favourite.
After speaking to staff at Rochdale, Walker decided to join the coaching team ahead of the 2018 Championship season and is excited to get started.
“I spoke to Alan (Kilshaw) and Rammy (Dave Ramsbottom) when I found out I wouldn’t be playing anymore, because I just wanted to stay involved in the game,” he continued.
“I think it’s just the dressing room and the banter with the lads I would have missed more than the playing side.
“I’ve been coaching at Blackbrook for a couple of years now, and I always thought the next step in my coaching career would be in the professional game rather than six lads turning up at training.”
The end goal for the 25-year-old is to be head coach one day, however he is aware that his coaching career has only just begun.
“I’m young to be a coach so I’ve got many years of coaching ahead of me, but I just want to progress and learn and one day be an assistant, and so-on.”
Alan Kilshaw was full of praise for Walker, who he had coached during the 2017 season, and was happy that he could assist him in the next stage of his career.
He also thanked his medical staff and the club’s player welfare manager for their support of the former Super League star during tough times.
“When any player is forced to retire due to injury it’s very unfortunate, however Anthony can look back on his career with great pride,” commented Kilshaw.
“He has played for his hometown club and contributed to successful seasons at Wakefield, Rochdale and Whitehaven.
“We have now put steps in place to help him with the next stage of his career, with him doing some community work for the foundation and coming onto the coaching team as a development coach.
“We are all very grateful for the support and care he has received by a number of different people, including the medical team at Rochdale, RL Cares and our player welfare manager Dave Ramsbottom."