Walker, 30, studied at Northampton School for Boys and rubbed shoulders with towering forward Lawes, 33, who skippered Eddie Jones’ side for the majority of this year’s Six Nations.
Ahead of his tilt at Commonwealth Games gold this summer, Northampton Saints fan Walker is taking inspiration from his side’s charge for the Premiership semi-finals with old school teammate Tom Collins an integral member of Chis Boyd’s title-chasing side.
Walker said: “Rugby was definitely my main sport growing up.
“A couple of the lads I went to school with are now in the first team, so I do try and follow it as best as I can. I played first team rugby with Tom Collins at school and he’s now generally a starter most weeks.
“We weren’t overly in the same friend group but we played in the same team for two years at school. He was moved up because he was good and you could see way back then that he was a level above everybody else.
“Courtney Lawes, he’s a bit older than me, but he went to school there - it’s a pretty well-known school in Northampton for sport. So, I’m obviously trying to put bowls on the map after their success which is pretty cool.”
Agonisingly missing out on selection for the Gold Coast in 2018 spurred Walker on to securing his Team England spot this time around with the added lure of friends and family being able to cheer him on in the Midlands.
However, the pandemic, which left him spending more time on the putting green than the bowling equivalent, threatened to derail things with the future of the sport’s biggest events left hanging in the balance as lockdowns took hold.
Walker added: “It’s a great honour to be selected to play at the Games, I’m really looking forward to it.
“It seemed a lifetime away at Christmas but it seems very real now. The chance to have all your family and friends at such a big event is a big plus.
“Especially with the pandemic and a few of the major events getting cancelled, there was a point where you thought whether they would take place again as they are such huge gatherings.
“It would mean everything to come back with a medal – plenty of hard work paying off. I like to say I normally keep my emotions in check but I’m sure it would be an emotional moment.”
Walker has upped sticks from Northampton and settled in Exmouth due to his partner’s work and now represents Kings Bowling Club in Torquay, home to his England teammates Louis Ridout and Sam Tolchard.
After helping oversee the success of the 2021 Bowls’ Big Weekend at previous club Northampton West End alongside his brothers Danny and William, Walker cannot wait to get stuck in at his new surroundings for this year’s edition of the nationwide campaign from Friday May 27 to Sunday May 29.
“Last year was a success where I was previously, just getting people into the social side of the sport and realising it’s good exercise for a couple of hours,” explained Walker.
“Bowls is one of those sports where you can go out and play on a Monday and Tuesday night against the best players in the country but I don’t think there’s any other sports where you can do that.”
Find your nearest participating club at: http://www.bowlsbigweekend.com.