The NSW Waratahs can confirm that Tom Horton and Joey Walton have been promoted to the senior squad for the 2020 Super Rugby season.
Both Horton and Walton have been part of Rob Taylor’s NSW Country Eagles squad in the 2019 National Rugby Championship (NRC) – having made their way through the NSW Gen Blue Academy system.
Now contracted until the end of 2022, Walton has appeared in all six of the Eagles NRC fixtures this season and has impressed in the midfield with his ability to find the line, but also create opportunities for those around him.
Originally from Warnervale on the Central Coast, Walton represented the Australian Schools Barbarians in 2017 and toured the United Kingdom and Ireland with the Australian Schools and U18s.
Walton was also part of Australia’s recent U20 World Championship squad, which made the tournament final earlier this year.
NSWRU General Manager of Rugby, Tim Rapp said that Walton had travelled the diverse pathway now available to young players across the state.
“Joey is a great example of how much our pathways have grown and changed, coming through the Central Coast Rugby Union,” Rapp said.
“Since coming into our Gen Blue system here at the [NSW Waratahs] Joey has made every post a winner, to now bring him into the top squad is reward for the time and energy he’s invested into his own development.
“He’s part of a core group of guys who went to Argentina [World U20 Championships] that we think have a bright future here at the [NSW] Waratahs.”
Meanwhile Horton – a Mosman Whales junior – has turned heads in the 2019 Shute Shield for competition premiers, Sydney University earning a one-year deal with the NSW Waratahs.
Horton was named Man of the Match in the Grand Final played at Bankwest in August, following his selection in the Australian squad that competed in the Oceania U20s Championships.
“Tom has come on in leaps and bounds this year, he’s been really impressive in the Shute Shield and continued that form into the NRC,” Rapp added.
“He now gets the opportunity to take on his first pre-season as a professional, which is only going to benefit him both physically and technically.
“There’ll be plenty of experience for Tom to lean on [during 2020] and we’re going to give him every chance to grow and improve in that environment.
“What we’ve seen from Tom so far, I’ve got no doubt he’ll take the opportunity with both hands and make the most of it.”
Horton will continue to play with Sydney University in the Shute Shield, while Walton will continue his association with Gordon.