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Adelaide has confirmed that Walker will return to face Essendon at Melbourne’s Docklands Stadium on Sunday afternoon, after the club’s greatest-ever goal-kicker completed his six-match ban for making a racist slur.
Walker made a racist remark about North Adelaide’s Robbie Young in a SANFL game last August, leading to time away from the club, work with the indigenous community and considerable reflection.
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“Taylor has done a lot of work. That’s certainly the feedback that I’ve had,” said Tanya Hosch, the AFL’s general manager of inclusion and social policy.
“I understand that he knows that that work’s got to be ongoing and I hope that commitment is strong and I hope there’s some humility with his re-entry into the game, after admitting – and it was important that he did admit – to racism.”
Racism is a major talking point in the AFL at the moment as the game grapples with Walker’s return and the Hawthorn scandal involving club legend Cyril Rioli and president Jeff Kennett.
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One reason why the Walker incident rocked the footy world was that he’d made a racist comment despite having been in the AFL system since 2007, exposing him to education and a host of indigenous teammates for more than a decade.
“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, players, players of colour, anyone who was really impacted by that incident at the time – I think that’s who we should be thinking about,” Hosch said.
Walker has booted 489 goals from 220 AFL games since debuting in round one, 2009.
The key forward skippered Adelaide to the 2017 grand final against Richmond, in which his side lost by 48 points.
Walker is contracted to Adelaide until the end of this season.
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