Former Kinross Wolaroi School first XV skipper Cody Walker has taken the next step on his path toward a Super Rugby, and potentially Wallabies, berth after being named in the NSW Waratahs’ 2017 Gen Blue squad.
Walker, now playing with Sydney club Eastern Suburbs, is one of 35 named in the Waratahs’ under-20 elite development squad for the second edition of the Super 20s Championship, following a pain-staking, months-long selection process.
He’s following the footsteps of former Kinross teammate Ned Yeomans too, who played in the inaugural tournament in 2016.
Walker’s 2016 form for the Beasties also had plenty to do with his selection.
In fact, he was so strong at loosehead prop he made his Intrust Super Shute Shield debut in April, at just 19 years of age.
Walker is one of 21 newcomers to the squad, which will be gunning to improve on NSW’s performance in 2016 – the Junior Waratahs failed to make the final, after winning the national title in 2014 and 2015.
From here, the group will start its rigorous training schedule – one off-field and two on-field sessions and three morning weights sessions per week – before kicking off its campaign against the Western Force in Sydney on February 25.
“It’s a very different group to last year and they all have different strengths but it’s starting to come together quite nicely … we probably had too big a squad last year and I think it affected our performance,” NSW general manger of rugby Tim Rapp said.
“There’s probably six or seven school leavers, 19-year olds who have pushed their way into the under-20 squad.
“Then we’ve got some good club players who add a lot of toughness to the group.
“There’s a good spread of clubs represented. You’ve obviously got some dominant clubs like Sydney University and Randwick but you’ve got guys from Warringah, guys from Southern Districts (and Eastern Suburbs).”
For the first time NSW has split its entire elite development group into two squads, Walker’s under 20s and an under-19 unit as well.
The former will focus on the Super 20s and the latter will take a more developmental approach.