Beaten by Broncos, Manly rushing to get Dylan Walker back in
MANLY is hopeful Dylan Walker will be cleared by the NRL's integrity unit and rushed into an injury-ravaged Sea Eagles side against Cronulla next Sunday.
Walker was cleared of domestic violence charges on Friday, just hours before Brisbane beat a brave Manly side 26-10.
The NRL - as a result of the court's findings - said the no-fault stand-down policy imposed on Walker had "expired". He has not played this year.
But Walker will still need to be cleared by the integrity unit before returning.
"He was found not guilty," Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler said.
"Which is a great thing for Dylan and his family. No doubt the last couple of months would have caused a lot of distress.
"We will now wait on the integrity unit to deliberate over the weekend. I think they will do that fairly quickly over the weekend.
"Karyn (Murphy) (of the) NRL integrity unit has already been in touch with the club. They will look through all the court documents and make an early call on it.
"(If they) are satisfied, Karyn and the integrity unit, there is a chance he might be available. That's it in the nut shell. That's how it will play out.
"We've gone through with the no-fault policy. They informed us he has been cleared by the no-fault so that's no longer currently running."
Walker told Manly Local Court on Friday he had got in a heated argument with his partner, Alexandra Ivkovic, at their Dee Why home last December.
She had told him their four-month-old baby was "not your son". He said he replied by telling her "you're f-----".
The pair were arguing after Ms Ivkovic had asked Walker, while he was playing with his PlayStation, whether he'd like a spoon or a fork to eat dinner.
Police alleged that after Ms Ivkovic left the home, Walker followed her outside and pulled her to the ground by her ponytail.
Walker denied this in the stand yesterday, telling the court he had followed her outside and asked her to come back into the home and speak to him.
"I just reached out with my left hand to touch her shoulder, just turning her towards me," Walker said. "Then she fell, fell on to the ground."
He also said he was not angered by her claim he was not his son's father.
"I just thought that was a hot-headed comment from her. I was not upset, just surprised."
Asked if he was upset, he said no "because he looks very similar to me".
Ms Ivkovic phoned triple 0 after the incident, telling an operator Walker "pulled my hair and I fell down".
The former Miss Universe Australia later told the court she had "recalled things differently" and "realised he didn't grab my hair".
Asked why his fiancee had initially said he pulled her hair, Walker said it was an "overreaction".
Neighbour Lauren O'Sullivan, who went to Ms Ivkovic's aid, previously told the court she had seen Mr Walker grab her by the hair.
But Magistrate Michelle Goodwin said she could not be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Walker had committed common assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
"In all criminal matters the prosecution bears a very high burden of proof. They need to satisfy me beyond reasonable doubt that the incident occurred and it occurred in the manner that has been attested to," she said.
"I am simply not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of the guilt of Mr Walker."
Walker, 24, has not played since round 25 last year. His return would be timely for the Sea Eagles after starting centre Moses Suli left the field early in the first half against the Broncos with a suspected broken finger.
Starting outside backs Tom Trbojevic and Jorge Taufua are also sidelined as the Sea Eagles' injury toll mounts.
Despite playing for Australia at centre, Walker could make his return in the No.6 jersey.
The Sea Eagles had to field makeshift five-eighth Curtis Sironen last night in an unlikely scrumbase pairing with Kane Elgey.
Daly Cherry-Evans is out until at least round 12 with a serious ankle injury and Trent Hodkinson (knee) and Lachlan Croker (hamstring) are unlikely to return in time to play Cronulla next Sunday.
St George Illawarra's Jack de Belin - who was the first player stood down as part of the policy - will know next week if he has successfully challenged the NRL's rule.