Former Adelaide Crows captain Taylor Walker has spoken publicly for the first time about the process of rejoining his teammates in the wake of his racism scandal earlier this year.
In an interview with Triple M in Adelaide on Friday morning, Walker acknowledged his reputation would always carry the stain of a racist comment directed at SANFL player Robbie Young while the Crows forward was a spectator.
Young did not hear Walker's comment, but it was overheard by an Adelaide Crows trainer who subsequently reported it to the club.
Walker was subsequently suspended by the Crows, using the time to consider his playing future before ultimately agreeing to see out his contract, which is up at the end of the 2022 season.
The 31-year-old is Adelaide's all-time leading goalkicker, and said during his interview that the saga had been "one of the most challenging things I've had to go through".
Walker returned to training with teammates in November.
"I was in the wrong," Walker said.
"It's something that is forever going to be there. It's never going to go away.
"I was quite nervous and anxious really ... bit of the unknown but the boys were quite welcoming when I got back.
"To get back and kicking the footy around is what I love doing so it's been awesome to be back around the footy club."
“It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve had to go through to date… I put my hand up and said I was in the wrong.”#weflyasone
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) December 3, 2021
Walker last October travelled to Port Augusta, about 320km north of Adelaide, with some Indigenous teammates and club staffers as part of his pledge to learn more about Indigenous issues.
"Once again, I was quite nervous going out there but they were very supportive, lovely community up there in Port Augusta," he said.
"I learnt so much and it was great to be able to go up there with young (Indigenous teammate) Tariek Newchurch, that's his community.
"You just don't get through these things by yourself.
"I've had a few people that have supported me immensely through this and I suppose when you go through things like this, you understand who your true friends and family and mates are."
Banned Crow Taylor Walker returns to AFL training
Walker joined teammates at Adelaide's West Lakes headquarters a fortnight ago for his first club-organised training session since his suspension last August.
He has served three matches of his six-game ban for making a racist remark at a state league game.
Walker had been training privately with some Crows players before joining official training on Wednesday when the club's first-to fourth year players returned.
"He was received really well by the group," teammate Ben Keays told reporters.
"It was a difficult time for the club.
"And not having him playing as well is difficult on-field as well as the off-field stuff.
"It was just one of those things that we had to ride out and we threw out support behind Taylor and behind all the boys at the club, so I'm really glad that he's back and it's business as usual."
Keays said Walker, who was named by his AFL peers as the league's best captain in 2016 and 2017, was his "normal presence" at training.
"He has been around the group all off-season," Keays said.
"When you see what he has done at his age, season after season, especially how he started last season, I think that just goes to show that he ... is always going to show up and be ready.
"He is professional and the main thing is he drives the group to be professional.
"He is already out there using his voice as he has done probably his whole career."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.