RUGBY LEAGUE: The Clarence Valley's rugby league journeyman Rhys Walters came within an inch of pulling the pin on his entire career. Instead, the former master of McKittrick is set to return to The Fortress and rejoin two-time premiership- winning club South Grafton Rebels.
After taking up a position with the Lower Clarence Magpies this season, the strain of being away from home - especially being away from his pregnant partner Amber Gull - was taking a serious toll on the champion hooker.
Not wanting to break a promise he made to the embattled Lower Clarence club as they resurrect their fortunes in the NRRRL, Walters was caught in two minds about what to do and took some personal time during the Magpies' bye round to work things out.
"I spent a bit of extra time at home and I just realised I needed to do the right thing for my family,” he said. "At the end of the day this is just a game, family has always got to come first.
"I know a lot of people will say I left because Lower weren't winning games, but that is not the case. I really support Lower and I think a win is only just around the corner for them.
"I think I was a bit selfish when I first made the decision to go down to Lower. I never took into account the toll it would take on Amber, and now that we have the bub on the way I really need to put her first.”
Walters was welcomed back into the South Grafton fold this week and is expected to play dummy-half in the Rebels reserve grade side as the club travels away to Bellingen-Dorrigo Magpies tomorrow.
With Mason Graham proving to be a livewire for the first grade side before he went down with a leg injury a month ago, Walters will have to fight tooth and nail to earn back the hooker role he made his own across a five-year period.
"I have always said the day I'm not good enough to play first grade is the day I give the game away,” he said. "So I am just going to have to prove myself to be good enough to play first grade.
"Mason is a great young player who has risen through the ranks in recent years. If he is better than me, then he deserves to get selected before me, it is as simple as that. It is now just a case of me pulling my finger out and playing some good football.”
South Grafton are hopeful they will welcome back some of their front-line first grade players for tomorrow's clash at Bellingen Park.