Banned Adelaide star Taylor Walker is “opening up, listening, learning” in discussions with teammates as he serves his ban for a racial slur.
But coach Matthew Nicks said there was no timeline on his full reintegration back into the club although he was “optimistic” the former captain would return to play out his 2022 contract.
The emotional weeks continue for Nicks and the Crows who this weekend say farewell to three favourite sons – David McKay, Tom Lynch and Daniel Talia – with only Talia saying goodbye from outside the team’s Covid bubble in the final round clash against North Melbourne.
Walker, 31, is contracted to play on next season but will miss the opening three games as part of a six-week suspension for a racial comment made to North Adelaide player Robbie Young that strained relationships with everyone at the Crows.
Nicks said the veteran forward had been having “really important conversations” with teammates as he looked to “repair relationships and connect back with the group”.
“That’s pleasing to see. We’re looking to move forward,” Nicks said on Friday.
Taylor Walker is trying to mend bridges at the Crows. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“Taylor is doing a lot of work on catching up with his teammates, opening up, listening, learning. We are helping where we can.
“Speaking to individuals and talking through, it’s a really important part of where it’s at the moment.
“And what you see is hopefully a lot of positive comes out of this and we can work together to make a difference going forward.
“It’s positive to see players that have gone through a really tough time, including Taylor, coming away from these conversations feeling better about where to from here.”
The players will enter a leave period next week with their season over, but Nicks is still hopeful Walker can return to the club “sooner rather than later”.
“It‘s one that won’t be rushed through,” Nicks told reporters on Friday.
“It’s something that Taylor, I know, would love to be there with his teammates (for the final game), and I know a lot of his teammates would love him to be there also.
“But at this point in time it’s about doing the right thing by everyone at the football club and making sure the time is right for him to come back into the group.
Adelaide Coach Matthew Nicks has been emotional talking about Taylor Walker. Picture: Michael MarschallSource:News Corp Australia
“I hope that is sooner rather than later. And I‘m sure it will be because the conversations we’re having at the moment are going really well.
“I’m really optimistic about sitting down with everyone involved, talking through emotions, talking through feelings. I’m really optimistic that we will make a difference moving forward.”
While some players are exiting after this week, Lachlan Gollant will make his debut, a week late according to Nicks.
“This is a player who came into my office and put his magnet up on the board the week prior,” Nicks said.
“He may have had a chat to me post-game (after losing to Melbourne last weekend) about the impact he may have had.
“I love the fact players are driving themselves. He won’t die wondering”.
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