Zac Walsh on fitness mission

MACQUARIE first grade coach Barrie Moore is taking a hands-on approach when it comes to reshaping new recruit Zac Walsh.
Nanjing Night Net

It has been the worst-kept secret in Newcastle Rugby League that the enigmatic Walsh would join the Scorpions after an unhappy season at premiers Western Suburbs.

Walsh, 19, spent limited time in first grade this season due to injuries and was often overlooked by Rosellas coach Craig Miller as his weight ballooned.

No one can doubt the halfback’s immense potential.

At his best, Walsh is one of the most talented play-makers in the competition, as seen when he led Wests to the 2012 premiership at 18.

Due to weight issues, Walsh was unable to play to his potential consistently at the Rosellas but Moore believes he can succeed.

Moore, who has taken over the first-grade job from Noel Dent after a premiership in reserves, has started weekly one-on-one training sessions with Walsh at Jesmond’s Heaton Park.

Last summer Moore lost 42 kilograms to stand at 68kg and he is passing on his experiences to Walsh.

‘‘I told him when I signed him I would get him fit,’’ Moore said.

‘‘I’ve taken it personally. No one has ever given the kid a go and I just wanted to sit down and help him.

‘‘It means a lot to him that we’re working one-on-one,’’ he said.

Walsh’s weight has been a constant hurdle in his promising career, which included a handful of Western Suburbs Magpies NSW Cup games in 2012.

Mid-way through 2012, the Knights signed Walsh and placed him with Wests, hoping the club’s professional set-up would improve his fitness in time for this year’s National Youth League.

Walsh gained weight over the summer after an injury and it cost him an opportunity in the Knights under-20s.

However, Moore was committed to getting Walsh down from 107kg to about 90kg.

‘‘So many of people have said to me, ‘If you can get him fit, good luck’,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve taken that as a personal challenge and there’s no reason he can’t do it if he sticks to it and at the moment he is.’’

Walsh finished last season in Wests’ beaten reserve grade grand final side.

‘‘I just thought I didn’t want to be in that environment and wanted to start afresh,’’ Walsh said.

Walsh says Moore’s personal experiences with battling the bulge makes his challenge to drop the weight easier.

‘‘It’s good to have someone who understands where I’m coming from, with him being 40kg heavier than he is now and knowing what it’s like to be big,’’ he said.

‘‘He knows we need help and that’s what he’s trying to do at the moment and I respect him for that.’’

Walsh is also hopeful he can resurrect his opportunity at the Knights as he is still eligible for their under-20 squad next season.

‘‘I’ve set myself a goal and I’m starting to get there and get my life back on track and 2014 should be a good year,’’ he said.

‘‘I get on with [recruitment and development manager] Peter Mulholland at the Knights. He said to give him a call when I get to the 100kg mark – I’d like to be there before Christmas, so I’m not too far away if I keep doing the right things,’’ he said.

HELPING OUT: Zac Walsh trains with Scorpions head coach Barrie Moore at Heaton Park. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

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