Walker set to see out season in the centres
Manly Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett has conceded the Dylan Walker experiment at five-eighth is most likely over after the former Rabbitoh was shifted to right centre for their 20-12 loss against the Sharks on Saturday night.
Walker had played nine of the first 10 games in the halves (he played fullback against the Cowboys in Round 9) and was once again named in the No.6 jersey for Saturday's clash, but it was clear from the outset that he and Jamie Lyon had swapped roles before kick-off.
Having played the majority of his career at centre – and given Lyon's ability to ball play – the move always seemed on the cards given Manly's tough start to the year.
The 21-year-old appeared to relish his move to the edge with a season-high 153 metres in what was his most consistent game for the Sea Eagles in 2016.
His speed and footwork caused plenty of headaches for the Cronulla defensive line with his half-break in the second half leading to a try to Jamie Buhrer in the 46th minute.
Barrett admitted Manly's injury problems had made Walker's transition to the halves harder than expected, and said he felt the time was right to move him back to his preferred position.
"I just thought Dylan needed some time out in the centres," Barrett said after the game.
"It's been hard on him. We've had nine different spines in 11 weeks, which is hard and it's been tough on Dylan. I just wanted him to enjoy his footy. I thought he looked good in open space and I thought Jamie did a good job at five-eighth as well."
Asked if he thought that would be the combination going forward, Barrett said: "Yeah I think so."
Walker said he and Barrett had talked about the move leading into the game and said his future role at the club remained in the hands of his coach.
"It depends on what 'Baz' wants to do. I thought I had some good moments there but some moments I'd like to pick up as well," Walker said after the game.
"Baz spoke to me about it and I was more than happy to go there. He just wanted me to enjoy my footy and I think I enjoyed my footy tonight.
"I had some fun and had some good clean, early ball. That's all you can ask for when you're a centre I guess.
"I've obviously played there a lot of my career. It was nothing really new to me so I felt comfortable and enjoyed it. I didn't feel any rust. It was probably one of my better games this year. There were a couple of things there that I have to work on and keep on improving."
The former Kangaroos centre was full of praise for his skipper after Lyon recovered well to control the game with halfback Daly Cherry-Evans after their side's slow start.
"Jamie is a professional. Wherever you chuck him, he'll play well and play hard," he said.
"You can play him in the front-row and he'll do a good job for you. He's just the ultimate professional and that's why he's been one of the greats for a very long time."