Jack Walker returned to Super League today with Hull KR away at Catalans Dragons and it was the worst possible return for him.
The former Leeds Rhinos fullback has had a career derailed by injuries.
The youngest ever Super League Champion, he hasn’t had the chance to kick on because of long term injuries.
This led to a loan move to Hull FC in 2022 which was punctuated by an injury prior to a move to Bradford Bulls which started with an injury.
He has now joined Hull KR but on debut his day was ended early by a head injury for which Mickael Goudemand was sin binned.
It compounded the loss of Jordan Abdull earlier in the piece as the Robins continue to suffer massive injury problems.
To make matters worse for Walker on debut, he was also hit hard by Adam Keighran before his injury.
In terms of the size of the hit, it was one of the biggest of the weekend.
— Dragons Catalans (@DragonsOfficiel) June 12, 2023
However, some have suggested it was a shoulder charge.
Shoulder charge? https://t.co/v68CK2Gm37
— Joe Clarkson (@JClarkson1311) June 12, 2023
My thoughts exactly.
— RED ROBIN PODCAST (@RedRobinPodcast) June 12, 2023
However, former Super League official Ian Smith explained why it wasn’t a shoulder charge:
He’s fully front on. For it to be a shoulder charge he has to tuck, rotate and lead with the shoulder, he doesn’t do any of those. It’s a perfectly good tackle. pic.twitter.com/aVOmJYVgu1
— Ian Smith (@Iansmith2468) June 12, 2023
It was a damaging defeat for the Robins. The early action saw Catalans on top with Adam Keighran spilling over the line and Catalans put the first points on the board via an Arthur Mourgue penalty.
KR defended well for the next ten minutes but the home side scored the first try of the night on the 25 minute mark with Matt Whitley collecting a kick and then running it in from 30 metres out.
That try came just minutes after Rovers lost their talisman Jordan Abdull, who had just returned from a hamstring injury.
Rovers forced a knock-on from the restart and secured another penalty inside Catalans territory but they failed to utilise it and were then punished when Catalans scored just minutes later through Tyrone May.
The pressure remained on Rovers and their evening got worse when debutant Jack Walker left the field for a HIA after a swinging arm from prop Goudemand, something he saw yellow for.
Just minutes after and on the verge of half time the Dragons scored another with Whitley bagging his second courtesy of a smart chip through, leaving the hosts 20-0 up at halftime.
Rovers started the second half with Goudemand still in the sin bin but it was Catalans who had the early ball and Tom Johnstone was denied in the corner.
The Robins had some territory but again failed to utilise it and with Corey Hall dropping a Mitchell Pearce bomb, Catalans were granted territory and scored via Mike McMeeken to put the game out of doubt at 26-0 after just 50 minutes.
Mikael Goudemand then went off for another ten minutes following a cannonball tackle but once again it was the French side who scored next despite the man disadvantage.
It was time for Tom Johnstone to finally get himself on the board with the winger being played in by Matt Whitley just after the hour mark, the score ticking over to 32-0.
More injury problems came for Rovers with Sam Wood limping off. Adding insult to that injury was Arthur Mourgue scoring a try, once again assisted by the brilliant Whitley.
Rovers did get on the scoresheet late on with Corey Hall the beneficiary of a smart move out wide before racing away to touch down. but it was simply a consolation as they fell in France by a score of 38-4.
The win allowed the Dragons to return to the top of the table, passing Warrington who had won earlier on points difference, whilst a fourth straight defeat left Rovers two points outside of the playoff spots in seventh ahead of their upcoming Challenge Cup clash with Salford.