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Rugby League

WALKING TALL

Thank you for your service, the greatest fans in the NRL salute you.

by Cam Schuster  I     22 February 2023

Go forth, and exit the pearly gates of 4 Pines with the honour and privilege of spilling blood, sweat (no bloody tears), and pride (no pun intended) for the maroon and white jersey and the bird of prey logo.  Thank you Sea Eagle 531 Kieran Foran for your knowledge and commitment, but the old must make way for the new, Josh Schuster will take it from here.  Thank you Sea Eagle 565 Martin Taupa’u for 7 years, your enforcer label has diminished since the early days, did the pride jersey debacle pave your way to Queensland?  Thank you Sea Eagle 567 Dylan Walker for your versatility and sacrifice, you won Dally M Center of the year in 2017 but you’re still a utility?  You have done us proud, now go, we hope your new teams will do well but perish when facing the mighty Manly Sea-Eagles this 2023 NRL Season. 

NEW CHAPTER

What these three men share in common other than their Kiwi connections and living the life at Sydney’s Northern Beaches is they will be considered assets to their new teams, 'valuable' assets to their new coaches, and teammates.  But who will thrive the most under their new environment? 

Foran brings veteran experience to a young promising Titans spine, including Toby Sexton, Tanah Boyd, and Whangarei-born Paul Turner in the halves.  

Taupa’u came out of unemployment limbo and a successful World Cup campaign with Toa Samoa to finally sign a one-year deal with the Brisbane Broncos.  Like Foran, the Samoan international will offer a wealth of experience to the Broncs, this time to their talented forward pack while reminding Payne Haas to don the Toa jersey for the Motherland.  

However, while Foran and Taupa’u both past their primes can be Mr. Miyagi this season Walker will make a straight impact on his new team The One NZ Warriors, and on himself.

 

HOME

“You’re home, let's get that right…” declares Tony Kemp with a cheeky grin while moving the microphone back to Walker.  Home away from home is what Aotearoa is to Dylan and being half Maori but raised in Ozzy, the once Sea-Eagle utility, now in full practice mode with his Warriors teammates graciously admits his lack of knowledge of Maori culture but feels the ‘pull’ of being close to his heritage, his family, his ancestors and whenua.  The feels since bolstered when taking the field with his Maori brothers in this year's NRL Indigenous game.  

 

THE WHY

For Manly last year Walker played 23 matches and came off the bench 19 of those, he started once at Center, once at Hooker, and twice at Lock Forward while averaging running meters of 88m and 1.9 tackle breaks per game, had 5 try assists and a 92% tackle success rate.  His defensive stats stand out when compared with Warriors personnel in 2022 with his tackle success rate beating everyone that played Center for the Warriors.  He averaged more tackle breaks per game than Jazz Tevaga including everyone that played Center again, only Viliami Vailea matched him.  This comparison indicates an upgrade for the Warriors defensively and impact off the bench should Webby go that route.

 

Keiran Foran, Martin Taupa’u, and Dylan Walker are ex-Sea-Eagles who will be assets their new teams should embrace in 2023.  Dylan Walker will indeed be walking tall as the One NZ Warriors welcome his versatility and his return home.  This homecoming will be the final ingredient in cooking a new level of confidence and passion in his game, not that he didn't have it already.  Home is where the heart is, and playing with heart is all Dylan Walker has ever done in his career.  But, playing for blood and country hits different, just ask Toa Samoa.

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