Titans in need of Walker wow factor

He took the ball from a scrum win, sized up the situation and then on the first tackle and deep within his own half Shannon Walker chip-kicked over the defensive line.

Using speed that few people are genetically blessed to possess, Walker sprinted through, leapt acrobatically into the air, regathered and then exploded once he returned to the turf on a 70-metre run to the try-line.

No, this wasn't a contender for try of the tournament at the weekend's Downer NRL Auckland Nines but rather the first time Walker touched the footy playing for Palm Beach Currumbin High in a schoolboy game against Marsden State High.

It happened close to a decade ago but his coach that day, Aaron Zimmerle, remembers it vividly and is adamant that the Titans need such excitement on their roster in order to capture the imagination of Gold Coast footy fans.

"He's why people pay money to go and watch a game of rugby league," said Zimmerle, coach of Tweed Heads in the Intrust Super Cup.

"He has the ability to do things that other players can't do on a football field to the point where my wife is that excited about this season should Shannon turn out for Tweed. She just wants to see him play.

"I hope Shannon performs and gets a start in the NRL because what it will mean is that I'll be at the Titans games every week whether they're winning or losing and I'll be there with my two sons and my wife because we'll go to watch him play."

After four years playing for Australia in Rugby Sevens Walker made his return to the Titans at Auckland over the weekend but had limited opportunities.

He had few meaningful touches in Gold Coast's opening loss to the Sharks, did not play against the Raiders in game two and although injury free was not sighted on day two as the Titans won their way through to the semi-finals before going down to the Warriors.

As the Titans progressed through the tournament coach Neil Henry opted to stick with youngsters Greg Leleisiuao and Brian Kelly out wide with Walker's next chance to press his claims to come in Saturday's trial game against the Warriors in Whangarei. 

With the Titans expected to field a near full-strength team for their final trial against South Sydney on February 20, this weekend may be Walker's last shot at enticing a full-time contract out of the Titans but Zimmerle has no doubt that he is the type of player that can draw crowds to Cbus Super Stadium.

As coach of Tweed Heads where Walker will play the Intrust Super Cup season this year, Zimmerle spent months talking to Walker about a return to rugby league and also convinced Henry to allow him to spend the pre-season with the Titans.

The pair played alongside each other for Tweed Heads in 2010 but Zimmerle believes the introduction of the National Youth Competition in 2008 impacted Walker's transition to the NRL.

As a 19-year-old in 2007 Walker was named the best player in Tweed's premiership-winning Queensland Cup season but 12 months later was playing for Gold Coast in the first season of the under-20s.

"The game changed a little bit right when he was at his peak," said Zimmerle.

"At 19 he was the best player in Queensland Cup and then the next year he went from playing with the likes of Brad Davis who was a legend at Queensland Cup level to going back to playing with kids in the NYC.

"His pathway just got a little cluttered because of the way the game changed during his time.

"He's 27 now and his window to achieve things is getting narrow but he also knows he's got other skills and attributes for what comes after.

"My gut's torn. I hope he doesn't [play for Tweed].

"For the sake of the Gold Coast and rugby league here, they have a kid who was a junior, come from Kyogle, gone through Palm Beach Currumbin, played under-20s at the club, to then come back and hopefully go on to be something special, that's more important than him playing for us.

"When he does play for Tweed though, that's going to be an eventful day.

"It's a distinct advantage because he is just so hard to handle, particularly when you drop him back to Intrust Super Cup level."