North Melbourne has consolidated its defensive stocks, re-signing big man Josh Walker on a one-year deal.
The deal will see the 28-year-old, who finished seventh in the Roos’ Best and Fairest in 2020, remain at Arden St until at least the end of 2022.
Walker said he is looking forward to another year in the royal blue and white stripes and helping drive the standards within the promising young group.
“It’s exciting and I’m obviously very thankful to the club to give me the opportunity to go again,” Walker said.
“Some of the back half of this year has given me a lot of optimism as to what we can achieve next year and I want to be a part of it.
“I’m excited about our younger guys continuing to improve and take the next step. I’m not just going to leave it up to them, I want to drive the standards and lift my own game again in order to get us where we want to go.”
Walker has played 123 AFL games, 38 of which have been with the Kangaroos. After joining the club as a delisted free agent at the end of 2019, he played his best football in defence.
North's number 19 said the defensive unit is getting better with each game.
“We’ve started to play a bit of footy together and we’ve started to become really settled,” he said.
“We’ve had a big adjustment at the start of this year with a completely new coaching group and game plan, so it was always going to take a little bit to click. But I think the second half of the year we started to prevent teams scoring as much.
“It's a great bunch of guys to play with and I thoroughly enjoy playing my footy down back. I’m looking forward to taking it even further next year.”
Having swung into the forward line on occasion throughout the season, Walker has had the opportunity to see the club’s young cohort of players from different roles. He says the group is only going to get better with another pre-season under their belts.
“We saw a couple of quarters where some of the young players would really step up and show glimpses of what they're capable of doing,” he said.
“For guys like Will Phillips and Tommy Powell, who started on fire and then had some injuries in the back half of the year, hopefully with another pre-season under their belt, more time in the gym and more time on the track learning, they can continue to elevate their games.
“They're only going to benefit from another pre-season and continued opportunities to train together and gel, and fingers crossed they get a good run at it with no injuries early next year and they continue to progress.”
North GM Football, Brady Rawlings, said Walker was an important part of the backline.
“Josh has provided us with flexibility and durability in his time with us, he is an important part of our football club,” Rawlings said.
“We’ve seen him settle into the backline and we’ve seen the group get stronger with each game.
“His experience is important within our young group and we’re excited to have him at the club for another year.”