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Walker ready to assume responsibility as Lions' main man up forward

Michael Whiting  January 16, 2016 2:12 PM

Josh Walker boxing during the Lions' training camp. Picture: lions.com.au

Josh Walker boxing during the Lions' training camp. Picture: lions.com.au

Being a local Geelong boy as well, I'd never lived outside of Geelong, so it's been a bit different, but the club has been fantastic

JOSH Walker has played just 33 senior games, but the recently turned 23-year-old has a sizeable weight on his shoulders ahead of the 2016 season.

No-one, including Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch, is expecting miracles from the recruit, but Walker will start the year with the responsibility of being the primary target in the forward 50.

It's a position the Lions have been trying to fill for a number of seasons – first as Jonathan Brown's brawn brother, and then as his successor.

Walker learnt from quality key forwards in his five years at Geelong, and now gets a chance to apply it to his own game.

In Cameron Mooney (297 goals), James Podsiadly (195) and Tom Hawkins (332 and counting), Walker picked the brains of players that have kicked a combined 820 goals.

Now with almost three months in his new city since being traded from the Cats, Walker says he's loving life and relishing the fresh start.

"Getting traded and moving clubs was something I was nervous about and a bit daunting, but the Lions really have made it super easy for me," Walker told AFL.com.au.

"I was at Geelong for five years, it was everything I knew. Being a local Geelong boy as well, I'd never lived outside of Geelong, so it's been a bit different, but the club has been fantastic."

Walker played 16 games, and kicked 19 of his 35 career goals, last year alongside Hawkins.

Now he's the main man.

It wasn't a totally foreign place for Walker, with childhood friend Allen Christensen quickly on the phone to encourage him to move north.

Then there was fellow former Cat Trent West offering his lounge to sleep on when he moved and young midfielder Jarrad Jansen who was part of the same trade deal.

But on the field, Walker has been recruited to take the pressure – and opposition's best defender – away from the young and underdeveloped Lions forwards.

They have a bevvy of youngsters all looking to win regular games, including No.2 draft pick Josh Schache, Jono Freeman, Michael Close and Academy product Eric Hipwood.

"That's fine being the target to start with," Walker said.

"If I can provide an option, give a contest and help lock it in and kick a few goals, that'd be nice.

"I think it can work really well and I'm excited about it.

"The thing I like about Brisbane is I think their list has turned around and they're on the way up.

"I sat down in a room with Leppa and he took me through the list (when he was being recruited) and it was exciting to see where we could be in two or three years' time.

"Then we had a great draft, especially with Schache, and the other trades in (Ryan) Bastinac and (Tom) Bell … it's exciting."