Ollie Walker makes return to Shelford Rugby Club
Ollie Walker has returned to the club of his youth by committing to Shelford for the new season.
The 24-year-old open-side flanker was part of the mini and youth set-up at the Davey Field, and a member of the Northampton Saints junior programme alongside Rory Hutchinson, who has gone on to become a Scotland international.
Walker continued his rugby route at Melbourne Rebels in Australia, and then had a spell as part of the Bay of Plenty academy in New Zealand.
But injuries have had a big impact on Walker.
Since returning to these shores, he has played for Cambridge, Hartpury College and Bury St Edmunds and, despite having an offer from Blackheath, has decided to rediscover his love for the game back at Shelford.
“He’s a young man, loves his rugby, very talented but has just had a bad run of injuries, and fallen out of love with the game,” said Shelford director of rugby Will Cotterill.
“He just wanted to start playing and enjoying himself and hopefully start getting some time on the field without busting himself or getting injured again.
“He was trying to find the right environment. He is very intense, very driven to the point where he probably puts a bit too much pressure on himself and that’s where he has lost the enjoyment factor in the game.
“The original conversation we had was around getting back on the field, falling back in love with the game, playing some good rugby, enjoying the environment that he was playing in and enjoying the company of the people that he was playing with.”
Walker still has friends at Shelford through his time in the youth ranks, and Cotterill has seen the player slot straight back into the squad.
“Ollie is a ball of energy, he gets stuck into everything and is going to be one of those players that helps lift the standards because he does drive himself quite hard,” he said.
“He is going to be a good guy to have around, and to see a smile on his face is really important. You play your best rugby when you’re enjoying it.”
Shelford have also had a couple of new second row players join the club, including 6ft 7in Tom Brooks from Huntingdon.
“He is absolutely enormous, a real young talent and fit and fast,” said Cotterill.