AAP Rugby

Walker hyped for NRL return against Sharks

By AAP Newswire

Manly coach Des Hasler has predicted Dylan Walker will bounce back to his brilliant best when he returns from his NRL exile against Cronulla on Sunday.

The Sea Eagles centre is champing at the bit to step onto the park for the first time in 260 days after being cleared of domestic violence charges last week.

And his injection into the side will give Hasler some much needed experience as they bounce from one injury problem to the next in 2019.

With spearheads Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic out, the return of Walker and Addin Fonua-Blake is offset by the loss to Moses Suli (finger, 4-5 weeks) and Toafoa Sipley (ACL, season).

"He's missed nine games but the staff here, they've worked him pretty hard," Hasler said.

"Dylan has a wealth of experience so he's no stranger to the game. He's played at the highest level so I'd imagine he'll handle the occasion. I think he's just looking forward to him playing."

Former Origin and Test representative Walker will line up against veteran Josh Morris, who finds himself in the thick of NSW Blues discussions given Brad Fittler's plummeting centre stocks.

Cronulla coach John Morris endorsed a growing chorus of support for 32-year-old Morris to win an Origin recall.

"He's come to this club and been our best trainer through the off-season and helped develop our young players," Morris said.

"He'd definitely do a job for them (NSW). It's just a question of whether they want to go down that path or go for another youngster."

Sharks prop Andrew Fifita has been rated a 50-50 chance of running out for his 200th game despite going down with a hamstring strain against the Gold Coast last week.

He was included in the line-up after it was cut to 19 on Saturday along with prop Matt Prior.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Cronulla's 26.7 per cent win record against Manly (24 of 90 games) is their worst against any team.

* Manly's Des Hasler will move into the top 10 for most NRL games coached, equalling John Lang on 371 games.