Roosters prop marvels at rookies' courage

Sam Walker has impressed his more experienced Sydney Roosters teammates in his debut NRL campaign.
Sam Walker has impressed his more experienced Sydney Roosters teammates in his debut NRL campaign.

Veteran Sydney Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has played 20 finals games but marvels at the courage of his inexperienced teammates in their first NRL post-season campaign.

Teenager Sam Walker's match-winning field goal against Gold Coast kept the Roosters alive for at least another week, but more than their talent it's the attitude from the rookies that impresses the battle-hardened forward most.

Waerea-Hargreaves has seen it in Walker's face with every challenge the young halfback has faced this year, including playing fullback for the final five minutes of the Roosters' round 25 win against Canberra.

Having never trained at No.1, Walkers' face lit up at the idea of just getting on the field.

To Waerea-Hargreaves, that level of fearlessness in a 19-year-old is special.

"It's so amazing that he can adapt," the ex-Kiwi Test prop said.

"He knew he was going to do a couple of kick returns (at fullback) and I just saw the look on his face and I thought, wow this kid is not scared or timid or afraid to go at it.

"He came on knowing that he had a job to do on the weekend (against the Titans) and he clearly demanded the ball and set up in the right position.

"The confidence of such a young kid... it amazes me all the time, it's very impressive just how calm he is."

In nine minutes on the field against Gold Coast, Walker kicked the match-winner and then made a tackle at the other end that saved the Roosters from defeat.

Despite his inexperience, he's playing above his weight in a team of premiership superstars.

It's been a coaching masterstroke from Trent Robinson to squeeze the best out of a group of young players in a season littered with injury setbacks and suspensions.

Adam Keighran, Drew Hutchison, Lachlan Lam, Egan Butcher and Fletcher Baker are all finals rookies heading into the biggest game of their careers against Manly on Friday night.

"It's super special, the willingness to learn, we talk about being a sponge to knowledge, it's definitely been a big part of our year just to develop certain players on the run and guys stepping up in certain places, it's been really enjoyable," Waerea-Hargreaves said.

Nearing the end of his career, Waerea-Hargreaves said the energy of his less experienced teammates has rejuvenated him.

"I'm probably the most immature out of the lot, I'm not going to lie," he said.

"I'm 32 but hanging out with the 18 and 19 year olds and think I'm this young kid again.

"My wife actually said the other day 'who do you think you are?'

"I'm staying up super late with these guys and some of them playing PlayStation until three in the morning.

"We're pretty lucky we live in Sydney but everyone lives all over the place so to be together (in camp in Queensland) is very special."

Australian Associated Press