NRL: Roosters young gun Sam Walker undaunted by finals says James Tedesco
Sydney Roosters captain James Tedesco has revealed why he has the ultimate faith in teenage whiz kid Sam Walker as the 19-year-old prepares to line up in his first NRL finals series in the elimination semi-final against the Titans.
Walker, who has been named in the number 14 jersey for Saturday night’s clash in Townsville, landed a late field goal to beat the Gold Coast 35-34 earlier in the year when he was starting half but was just as effective off the bench when he came on to score a try and set one up in the Roosters’ 40-22 win over the Dragons.
The Ipswich product is hot favourite to be Dally M rookie of the year after recording 21 try assists and 30 linebreak assists in just 19 games this season. Whatever role he plays for the Roosters in the finals, Tedesco said he had “100 per cent confidence” in the teenager.
“Sammy doesn’t get fazed by anything. He is just so unfazed,” Tedesco said.
“He is cool, calm and collected as you can be and he showed it as soon as he got thrown into first grade this year, probably a lot earlier than we all expected.
“He just plays footy and that is his biggest strength. Sammy is high on instincts. When he was at training he was doing it – throwing long balls and short balls.
“It has obviously been a bit draining for him this year with the high demands of first grade every week, but he has still done a great job for us and a big part of our success going forward.”
Tedesco has been the recipient of Walker‘s guile. He charged onto one sleight of hand short ball from Walker against the Eels in Mackay that led to a cracking try, a move that also showcased how the teenager is a quick learner.
Early on this year his go-to play was the long cut-out pass, but he has varied it since.
“When you come in as a young kid that no one knows much about you can just play your game, but when you play week-in and week-out the teams will do video and be prepared for how you play,” Tedesco said.
“That is something he has learned really well and adapted to.
“He is only 19. You think of the best halves like Nathan Cleary and Daly Cherry-Evans who have come through. They didn’t hit their straps until their early 20s so it has been a big year for his development, and I am excited to see how he goes in the future when he gets more experience.
“I have 100 per cent confidence in Sam, and in (starting halves against the Titans) Drew Hutchison and Lachlan Lam too.
“They have all got better throughout the year and that is a big thing for me as captain, just to see the young guys get better every week. I don’t want to restrict them. I just want them to go out and play footy, and that is what Sammy does.”
Originally published as NRL: Roosters young gun Sam Walker undaunted by finals says James Tedesco
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