Ashurst signs new Wakefield contract, but Walker retires

Matty Ashurst.
Matty Ashurst.
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HIGHLY-RATED Matty Ashurst has signed a new four-year deal with Wakefield Trinity – while their former prop Ant Walker has had to retire at the age of just 25 due to a lifelong but previously undiagnosed brain abnormality.

Seeing Ashurst commit his long-term future to them is a major boost for the West Yorkshire outfit given the hard-running second-row was tipped for England honours after another terrific season at Belle Vue.

The 28-year-old’s defensive qualities and relentless appetite for work are well known and, since initially joining from Salford Red Devils in 2015, he has become an integral part of Chris Chester’s squad.

Ashurst missed just one of their 32 games last term as Trinity finished fifth and he was named both player of the year and players’ player of the year.

“I am really happy to have secured my long-term future here at Wakefield,” he said.

“The club has improved massively in the time that I’ve been here and that showed with us narrowly missing out on the semis last season.

“I have enjoyed working under Chezzy (Chester) and the rest of the staff and we’ve got a really good group of lads here which was a big reason I wanted to stay. I’m looking forward to the future and hopefully playing a part in the club building on the last couple of years and continuing the move in the right direction.”

Chester added: “I am thrilled that we have been able to secure Matty for four years.

“He has had an impressive season for us playing some big numbers week in, week out.

“His dedication to the club is second to none whether it is on the field or at training.

“To be able to secure a player on a long-term deal like we have with Matty proves that the club is heading in the right direction; 2017 was a fantastic season finishing in fifth but we now look to improve on this in 2018.”

Unfortunate Wales international Walker, however, announced yesterday that he has been forced to quit the sport.

The ex-St Helens forward joined Trinity in 2014 and played four Super League games at the start of this year.

However, he then joined Dewsbury Rams on dual-registration and – after facing Dewsbury with Wakefield in May’s Challenge Cup tie – and eventually re-joined Rochdale Hornets the following month until the end of the campaign.

Walker suffered a concussion in their win against Swinton in September and it was only after a routine scan that medical staff discovered the serious issue.

It not only saw him have to withdraw from Wales’ World Cup squad but end playing entirely.

In a message on social media, he wrote: “I have had to retire from playing rugby due to having an abnormality in my brain that I have been born with.

“This is something that I have always had and should never have been playing contact sports. I am very fortunate to have found this and have it treated without it having a negative effect on my life.

“I’m blessed to have achieved what I have in the game and met some amazing people along the way. I’m lucky to have a loving, supportive family that has made this transition easier.”