Tex Walker is set for a hostile reception at Marvel Stadium after Adelaide Crows confirmed star is BACK for Essendon clash following racism ban, while Geelong rest Joel Selwood and Bombers confirm coach is out with Covid
- Tex Walker will make his return for Adelaide Crows against Essendon on Sunday
- Walker, 31, has been sidelined after serving a six-game suspension for racism
- Adelaide assistant Nathan van Berlo has no concerns about Walker’s fitness
- Meanwhile, Joel Selwood is rested while Ben Rutten has contracted Covid
Taylor Walker will make his return to the Adelaide Crows forward line against Essendon after serving his six-game racism ban, with assistant coach Nathan van Berlo dismissing doubts about the star’s match fitness.
Walker, 31, is expected to have to contend with a hostile crowd at Marvel Stadium on Sunday after being suspended for aiming a racist slur towards North Adelaide’s Robbie Young in a SANFL match last year.
He has not played at any level this year, with the AFL blocking the Crows’ request for him to compete in trial matches, but van Berlo has no concerns about Walker’s ability to slot back into the fold.
Taylor Walker will make his return for Adelaide Crows after serving a six-game suspension
‘He’s obviously our most experienced forward and brings a lot to our forward group,’ van Berlo told the club’s official website.
‘Understanding he’s missed a fair bit of footy, but the way he’s trained and his experience will help compliment our mix we hope.
‘It was discussed at match committee level and in the end we decided Tex would play this week and it helps with our experience ahead of the ball and across the entire group.
‘We’ll back him in not having any match fitness to date, but he’s been in the system a long time now and we will back in that experience to help him. We may manage him to an extent on the weekend but we’re looking forward to having him back ahead of the ball for us.’
The Crows star has been sidelined after being hit by a ban for a racist slur last year
Adelaide assistant Nathan van Berlo says Walker will add experience to the club’s forward line
Elsewhere, winless Essendon will have to confront Adelaide without coach Ben Rutten while vice-captain Taylor Adams is out of Collingwood’s clash with West Coast, both because of COVID-19 issues.
Adams has contracted the virus, while Rutten tested negative but is required to isolate for seven days as he is a household contact of a positive case.
Senior assistant coach Blake Caracella will take the reins against the Crows, when the Bombers, who are 0-3, will seek to make amends for their worst start to a season since 1967.
‘Ben has tested negative but is a household contact and will isolate for the required period of time,’ Essendon football boss Josh Mahoney said.
Elsewhere, Geelong stalwart Joel Selwood will miss the Cats’ game against Brisbane Lions
Bombers coach Ben Rutten will also miss the game against the Crows after contracting Covid
‘We understand this is the landscape and like many other clubs at the moment, will adjust to the situation accordingly.
‘As such, Ben will remain involved in the program remotely.
‘Blake Caracella will take on the duties of the senior coach position in Ben’s absence over the coming days, with our program remaining fully focused on our preparations for Sunday’s game against Adelaide.’
Collingwood coach Craig McRae confirmed Adams won’t play against West Coast after the midfield stalwart tested positive.
McRae also revealed on SEN radio on Wednesday only five of his players have not yet contracted the virus.
Geelong star Joel Selwood, who broke the record for most AFL appearances as a captain last week, will miss the Cats’ clash with Brisbane on Friday night, with Chris Scott managing the veteran.