Since arriving as a delisted free agent from Brisbane in late 2019, Walker has donned the royal blue and white on 38 occasions. He’s been a mainstay in North’s back six but has also shown his versatility around the ground over 2021, by additionally spending time in his former role up forward.
When speaking with nmfc.com, Walker had the following to say in regards to his extension and young teammates.
“It’s exciting and I’m obviously very thankful to the club to give me the opportunity to go again,” Walker said.
“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.
“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.”
— North Melbourne (@NMFCOfficial) September 6, 2021
When prompted about the re-signing, North Football GM Brady Rawlings chimed in with praise for the veteran defender.
“Josh has provided us with flexibility and durability in his time with us, he is an important part of our football club,” Rawlings remarked.
“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.”
Walker’s one-year deal follows as the club continues their focus on prioritising young talent and their future development, and not overcommitting to older players like in recent years.
Nothing is more evident of this fact than skipper Jack Ziebell and lockdown defender Robbie Tarrant only being offered single year deals, given the pair are in their 30's. This comes despite the resurgence of Ziebell off the half-back line and Tarrant’s consistent display of stingy defence, even in his interrupted 2021 campaign.
Additionally, attacking half-back Aaron Hall was only offered the one-year when he re-signed with the Kangaroos early last week, himself also coming off a stellar season which included a phenomenal 13,009 meters gained.
Senior coach David Noble and his staff clearly aren't worried about list turnover, as they look to rebuild as fast as possible. North Melbourne have already added a further four delistings this off-season in addition to their 15 list changes from 2020, with potentially more changes to come as seven players still remain without a contract.
North’s shifted focus is understandable as their improvement has been clearly evident, having improved from only winning one of their first nine games to finishing the year with four wins and a draw. Furthermore, North Melbourne went from being obliterated and embarrassed on a weekly basis to consistently putting forth a sustained effort with each passing game.
As Noble and his Kangaroos gear up for an intense 2022, the club will welcome the addition of another highly touted young gun as they hold the first pick in the upcoming AFL Draft.