First Nations Wallabies: Lloyd Walker

Wallabies backrower Sean McMahon chats to the media in Townsville.

To honour the Wallabies wearing the First Nations jersey against Argentina, Rugby.com.au has taken a look back at the incredible efforts by First Nations Wallabies - looking at the silky Lloyd Walker.

Walker was said to be unfashionable, too slow, and awkward. Perhaps there is some truth in those views.

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However, there is no doubt that Lloyd Walker was a footballing genius. He possessed extraordinary ball handling skills, a softness of touch and a unique sense of timing and space that mesmerised his opponents.

Walker was born in Sydney and educated at Matraville High School. He captained the 1st XV and was a member of the school’s winning Waratah Shield teams in both 1976 and 1977.

He was the master of the two attributes that only great inside backs possess. Firstly, he performed best when at the advantage line. Secondly, he always ran parallel to the sideline and never encroached upon his outside support. He often attracted the attention of several would-be defenders and then at the salient moment slipped a soft ball to an unmarked teammate and sent him through a gap. He also had a wonderfully deceptive dummy pass.

For a rugby purist, Walker was a joy to watch.

Unfortunately, Walker’s innate creative abilities, whether it be at fly half or inside centre, were not recognised until late in his career.

Walker joined Randwick after school and played in ten grand finals from 1981-94. Amazingly he did not make his New South Wales debut until 1985, against Queensland at Ballymore.

Walker was 29 when he was finally called upon by the Australian selectors in 1988 to make his Test debut at fly half against New Zealand in Brisbane.

Walker as part of the Australian team v British Isles for the 1st Test in 1989 at Brisbane
Walker as part of the Australian team v British Isles for the 1st Test in 1989 at Brisbane

In the first Test of the series two weeks earlier, Australia were humbled by the Kiwis 32-7 at Concord Oval. Walker and Tim Gavin were brought into the side for the second Test and the Wallabies earned a more than respectable 19-19 draw.

Lloyd Walker, a proud indigenous Australian, played eight Tests for his country in a two-year international career.

Walker was on hand to present the Wallabies their jerseys the last time they played Argentina in the First Nations strip in 2020.

At the time, he called for the side to be more adventurous with the ball, something which is shining through at the moment.

"It's been difficult this year because of the limited exposure together and playing with one another but hopefully the coach will bring that on in the future," Walker said last December.

"I would like to see them be a bit more adventurous in their play.

"..."You've got to do the hard work early and try to fatigue the opposition. You've got to create that little bit of space where you can move the ball around a little bit

"(Playing) the bash-barge game, you've got to move it around a lot earlier than we did against Argentina the first time. "I'm not saying going to the wing, but use a second or third pass to run them around a bit so fatigue's an issue."

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The great Mark Ella regarded Walker with reverence, lauded as Australia's best ball player.

That should be good enough for all and sundry to take on trust.

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