Adelaide’s Taylor Walker is expected to have to deal with a hostile crowd and a lack of match fitness when he makes his AFL return from a racism ban.
- Taylor Walker was suspended for a racist remark about Indigenous North Adelaide player Robbie Young
- The AFL blocked a request from Adelaide to let Walker play preseason trials
- The Crows play Essendon at Docklands on Sunday
Walker has been named to face an away Essendon crowd at Docklands Stadium on Sunday, having served his six-game suspension for making a racist remark about North Adelaide’s Robbie Young during a SANFL game last August.
Walker has not played at any level this year, with the AFL blocking Adelaide’s request to allow him to play trial matches.
Assistant coach Nathan van Berlo said Walker’s lack of match play was weighed against his status as a former skipper and the club’s all-time leading goal-kicker at selection.
“We will back him in, not having any match fitness to date,” van Berlo told reporters on Wednesday.
“But obviously he has been in the system for a long time now and we back in that experience to help him.
“He brings a lot to our forward group — understanding he has missed a fair bit of footy, but the way that he has trained and his experience will help complement our mix.”
Last August, Walker was banned by the AFL for six games for his racist comment to a teammate at a state league game.
The 31-year-old took some time to decide to play out the final year of his contract in 2022.
The Crows expect to manage the game time of Walker, who performed Indigenous community work during his ban.
“He will certainly be excited to get back out there,” van Berlo said.
“He will be ready to go come Sunday. He may be a bit rusty and he may be blowing a fair bit, but we will back in his experience and the way that we manage him to hopefully help out the guys ahead of the ball.”
Captain Rory Sloane appears set to return from a groin injury, while Walker replaces the axed Darcy Fogarty.