“There has been no complaint via email, phone or letter to any member of Souths’ staff. That’s fine [if they want to interview me], that’s their prerogative.”
The integrity unit interviewed Walker on Monday afternoon, a day after he informed Souths staff and police he had been subjected to a $20,000 blackmail attempt.
While police confirmed they would investigate the threats made against Walker – there were claims a video of him fighting in the street would be released to the media if he did not pay money – detectives have also opened inquiries into the December 1 brawl in Casino that “was not initially reported to NSW Police”.
The integrity unit is expected to widen its own line of inquiries as early as Tuesday and speak with Bennett and possibly Souths boss Blake Solly, who was not aware of the issue until Sunday.
Melbourne and Canberra are sure to take an interest in whatever penalty is handed to Walker, given Jack Wighton was banned for 10 NRL matches and Nelson Asofa-Solomona suspended for three New Zealand matches for similar fights captured on film.
Souths will be sweating on Walker avoiding a ban, given the Roosters and Melbourne await them in the first fortnight back in the competition.
Walker had returned home to the northern NSW country town for several community events last December. On his arrival, he learnt his cousin had taken her own life a week earlier.
Footage of a fight emerged on social media on Monday, which showed a shirtless Walker launching a left-footed karate kick on a man in a fight with his cousin. He later returns and threatens to fight the man again, only to be dragged away by friends. His name is mentioned by one of the bystanders filming the street fight.
A remorseful Walker told Nine on Monday night: “I was trying to protect a family member after the loss of one of my first cousins who we lost through suicide, she was 24 and we were grieving her [death].
“Seeing her brother who is my first cousin in a fight, the first thing that popped in my head was, ‘I need to stop it’. It was a very emotional time for myself and the family leading into that week. It wasn’t a true reflection of my character or who I am as a person.”
Walker was negotiating a contract extension with Souths when the Casino incident unfolded. A fortnight later, it was officially announced he had signed a two-year deal worth around $1.3 million.
A couple of months earlier, Walker had represented the Prime Minister’s XIII team in Fiji, only to pull out of the World Cup 9s the following week for personal reasons.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.