Hull FC’s Leeds Rhinos loanee Jack Walker in biggest issue of his career

Once hailed as the brightest spark in the British game, Leeds Rhinos’ Jack Walker has endured an injury nightmare ever since bursting onto the scene in 2017.

The class of the fullback was evident immediately, with Walker registering a hat-trick on his senior debut against Doncaster in a Challenge Cup tie at Headingley in April 2017 before starring for the Rhinos for the rest of the year.

In fact, the diminutive figure earned the respect and trust of head coach Brian McDermott so much that he was given a starting role in Leeds’ demolition of the Castleford Tigers in that year’s Grand Final.

Wind the clock forward five years, however, and Walker’s career has been blighted by serious injury including another heartbreaking moment over the weekend when he left Hull FC’s MKM Stadium – where he is currently on loan – early after hearing ‘a crack’ in his foot.

Walker has already had numerous foot injuries with the fullback previously revealing on The Full Eighty Minutes podcast just how damaging his problems had been.

“My foot has snapped, I snapped my lisfranc which is the ligament that holds your big toe and middle toe together and I broke my foot in three places,” Walker told The Full Eighty Minutes podcast.

“I tried running it off and the pain didn’t go away and I was gutted. I thought I would be alright the week after but that was season done and I was wounded.”

However, that was just the start of the 22-year-old’s misfortune.

“Throughout the whole of my rehab my joint was rubbing together which caused arthritis in my foot so I went to see a couple of specialists and it was my last chance – if the operation didn’t work that was it.

“They had to shave the bone where the arthritis was to get rid of that, and then they had to take bone from my heel and put it into the middle of the foot where my joint was and put a plate on foot and fuse my foot together – that was another eight months.

“I did that in February 2020 and that was the whole season done, but after that season my foot didn’t feel right and I went for a scan.

“I got to February 2021 time, they said I would have to have the operation again so that was another eight months. It was the full 2021 season out and then eight games into 2022 my hamstring went.”

That just about epitomises the utter heartbreak that Walker has had to endure so far in what has been a short career, but the latest issue does throw a significant question – where he will be in 2023?

It seems increasingly likely that Zak Hardaker will get a new deal at Headingley, and, with Richie Myler still an able deputy at fullback, there is seemingly no place for Walker.

However, with Hull signing the likes of Tex Hoy and Liam Sutcliffe for 2023, it doesn’t appear as though Walker is in Brett Hodgson’s plans either with Jake Connor likely to move back to fullback and Sutcliffe to take his centre spot.

For such an incredible talent, injuries just haven’t been kind to Walker and it’s sad that, for three years, the fullback has hardly been out on the field.

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