Walker free to play trials as DV charges loom
Dylan Walker's pending domestic violence charges will not be a deciding factor in whether he plays in Manly's first NRL trial against Cronulla on Saturday night.
The Sea Eagles say Walker is available for selection in the Shark Park match, which comes less than 72 hours before the 24-year-old is due to face court.
Walker, 24, will face two assault charges from December and is expected to plead not guilty.
Under current NRL rules, Walker is free to play, and Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler will make a final decision later this week.
But the looming court case will not impact on Manly's decision. Instead, it will be based solely around whether Walker has the fitness and desire to play.
Privately, Manly believe Walker is mentally ready to play football again, and could play up to half of Saturday's match.
One official said: "We will see how the week unfolds at training. He is available. The court case won't be a deciding factor in whether he plays or not."
The Sea Eagles may opt to rest several star players before contesting a full-blown trial against the Sydney Roosters in Gosford on Saturday week.
Walker, a former NSW and Australian player, has been training with Manly at the club's Narrabeen headquarters. The club is continuing to monitor Walker's welfare.
Walker was told to stay away from training after the allegations were made public to "get his head right." He wasn't officially stood down or sanctioned by the club.
He faces criminal charges of common assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm after his fiancee Alexandra Ivkovic sustained cuts to her feet, leg and shoulder in the northern beaches suburb of Dee Why on December 6.
Ivkovic, also 24, has retracted her statement but police will push forward with the case against Walker.
Manly held a media day on Monday at Narrabeen but Walker was not available for interview. Sea Eagles chief executive Lyall Gorman was not commenting.
The decision on whether to play Walker should be made by Thursday.
Cronulla released a statement on Monday confirming the trial match had been shifted from Brookvale to Shark Park.
The Brookvale Oval playing surface was deemed unacceptable by both clubs. The match will kick off at 7.30pm.
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