Hockey's quiet achiever

By TANIA PHILLIPS

HE has a great hockey pedigree and is a talented player, but modest 16-year-old James Walker was so convinced he wouldn't be picked for the NSW schoolboys' team he didn't even wait for the team announcement.

"We were actually in the car on the way home from the NSW titles when the team was announced," Walker's mum, Jenny, a current Queensland over-35s% representative admitted.

The Murwillumbah High Year 10 student not only made the team, but last week helped them win the Australian titles in Canberra.

New South Wales defeated the ACT 2-0 in the final% after remaining undefeated throughout the tournament.

The third generation Waratah Bobcats A-grade player, one of the youngest members of the NSW team, played up front through the early stages of the four-day tournament in the Canberra cold, but was switched to the more familiar midfield for the finals.

Although he did not score a goal, the youngster was instrumental in setting up several scoring shots for NSW. Walker said he enjoyed the experience and it had %given him a taste for more representative honours.

"It was a great learning curve. We did a lot of things I don't usually do presses etc," he said.

With two more years of high school left, Walker (who was not quite 16 when he was selected for NSW this year) has plenty of chances to become a permanent fixture in the NSW schoolboys team, but typically wasn't counting his chickens yet.

"Yeah I'd like to go all the way with hockey, but it's probably not going to happen," he said.

If dedication counts for anything he may just be wrong.

Despite competing in Canberra for the best part of a week Walker was still on deck in Lismore for the JH Williams Cup semi-final for the Bobcats even scoring a goal in the team's victory. The following day he was back on deck for the grand %final in which the Bobcats went down to arch rivals Allstars. As a Bobcat, Walker is following in the footsteps of his father Michael and grandfather Basil.



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