"Not just for me but my family too. They've been really supportive, they could have easily turned their heads and [been] 'don't worry about him'.

Walker had to lean on that support network after he was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault. While he was found not guilty of pulling his fiancee Alexandra Ivkovic to the ground by her ponytail following a fight over a PlayStation in May, the Manly playmaker admits he was "looking down the barrel of potentially being gone" from the game altogether.

One of the first players affected by the NRL's new "no fault" stand-down policy, Walker was allowed to return for the Sea Eagles after the verdict. That experience has ensured he cherishes opportunities like this weekend's finals clash against Cronulla.

That's the most important thing, especially when you face those challenges in life, that you have that good support system around you.

"It's been a big, old rollercoaster," Walker said of his season. "Coming into this week, I just don't take any game for granted now. I was looking down the barrel of potentially being gone, so I'm blessed each day. I reflect on it every day, how grateful I am to have such great teammates, family, friends and a support base around me.

"That's the most important thing, especially when you face those challenges in life, that you have that good support system around you.

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