Ant Walker was unveiled as Widnes Vikings’ latest new signing as the Rugby League World Cup trophies visited Widnes on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old Wales international was at the DCBL Stadium ahead of going in to camp with the national team for the tournament that starts next Saturday and his arrival was revealed live on the club’s Instagram channel.
He has spent the past two seasons with Bradford and has previously played in Super League with St Helens and Wakefield, before a potentially fatal brain condition diagnosed days before the last World Cup forced him out of the game for four years. After radiotherapy and being given the all clear, it was Vikings coach John Kear who gave him the opportunity to play again.
Pupils from St Michael’s Catholic Primary School and Ditton Primary School got a sneak peek of the new signing as they took part in the World Cup roadshow, which is taking the three trophies up and down the country.
Walker, who has signed a two-year deal, said: “I’m looking forward to it. It’s a good club to come to, it’s moving in the right direction. It’s got good aspirations and some of the signings already announced have been exciting.
“I like carrying the ball. I like running as hard as I can at a team that’s trying to defend me. I like trying to get an offload away.
“John’s the kind of guy if he says run through a brick wall, you run through a brick wall. And players want to play for coaches like that. When I had my four years out, John kept in touch. When the opportunity to play under John again it was a no brainer.
“With what we’ve signed and what’s already here, we want to pushing towards the top, winning your home games and getting to the play-offs. It’d be nice to have a dig at the 1895 Cup as well.
“The fans are massive. Widnes have a strong fanbase. I’ve played here for Bradford, Saints and Wakefield and the fans have always been loud and on away days as well. There’s probably not a better stadium in the league, the facilities are fantastic and the pitch is fast. People say in my position that you don’t like a fast pitch but I prefer a faster pitch than a mud bath!
Walker has been named in Kear’s Wales World Cup squad alongside Vikings hooker Matty Fozard. They face an eye-watering group with Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands.
He added: “It’ll be nice to make a bit of a name for yourself. People are watching all over the world and people are writing Wales off. That hurts us as players. We want to prove people wrong.”
Walker is the second new signing announced this week, following the news that Kieran Dixon has made a permanent move from Leigh. More signings and retention news will follow soon.
Signings like these are only possible due to the generosity of our supporters using subscription schemes like VIQI and Widnes VIPs