Walker brothers’ radar focuses on Fiji Bati kingpin
17 November, 2017, 12:00 am
Jarryd Hayne will be top of Ben and Shane Walker’s hit list should they be appointed coaches of a proposed New York franchise aspiring to play in the Super League.
The former Broncos players, who are coaching the Ipswich Jets in the Intrust Super Cup, spoke to NRL.com about their Hayne plans after the Courier Mail reported they would hold discussions with New York bid chiefs on the Gold Coast early next week.
The New York proposal, lodged with the Rugby Football League, is to enter a side in the lower tiers of the UK rugby league competition in 2019 — either League 1 or the Championship — and from there earn their way into the Super League.
The Walkers are keen to find out more about the New York opportunity after missing out on the Titans head coaching job, a role handed to Garth Brennan.
One of the many attractions to the Walkers about that role was the prospect of coaching Hayne, who Shane Walker said would be the perfect fit as the face of a New York-based side after his stint with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL.
Hayne, who has been linked to a possible return to the Eels, is off contract with the Titans at the end of 2018.
“Jarryd has made waves over in the US before in their own sport and would certainly be recognisable to fans, so he would be a real franchise player for us,” Shane Walker said.
“He is a talented footballer and when he is at his best he can be brilliant, and we know we can get the best out of blokes.
“That is what we enjoy most about coaching.
“Plenty of people said that coaching Jarryd couldn’t be done, that he burns out coaches, but we love a challenge.
“And I think a lot of people have formed an opinion about Jarryd without really knowing him.
“New York want to talk to us because they think we can sell the game over there.
“It sounds like it could be really exciting. It is a new frontier, and a new franchise, and we certainly like to embrace challenges.”
Ben Walker said another player they would be keen to recruit was Silas Redd, a former running back in the NFL with Washington, who will join Ipswich for the 2018 season.
“Silas is no mug,” Ben said.
“We’ll teach him how to play rugby league over here, and then take him back over there.”
Ben Walker, who said the interest from the New York bid team had come out of the blue — insisted a star roster could be put together and change the face of rugby league in the US.
“We put a good roster together at the Jets and we don’t have any money,” he said.
“Give us a bit of cash and see what we could do.
“Our manager (Clinton Schifcofske) met with New York people about some prospective players, and then they said they were interested in approaching the Walkers to coach.
“Clinton said that he managed us and that is how we landed the interview.”
The brothers are both married and each has four children and successful businesses.
“And that is something we will have to consider,” Shane said.
They recently signed a one-year deal to coach the Jets in 2018, so a 2019 start date would suit them.