‘Roosters had a different idea’: Ben Ikin explains why Broncos lost Sam Walker as rookie prodigy plays on with painkilling injections at the Chooks
BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Diminutive rookie halfback Sam Walker required painkilling injections for a shoulder injury prior to his National Rugby League debut for the Sydney Roosters against the Warriors at the Sydney Cricket Ground on April 4.
The 18-year-old has been struggling with it ever since.
According to the official Roosters website, Walker weighs just 78 kilograms and has been on the other end of some huge hits from much bigger opponents throughout the season thus far.
And why not?
It’s free game once you enter the big leagues.
The question is… how much more NRL does Roosters coach Trent Robinson give Walker in 2021 as their campaign slips further into the abyss?
In their last two outings, the Roosters have been smashed by premiership-leaders Melbourne and Penrith respectively.
Walker has been named at halfback for Saturday’s game against Canterbury which should see two premiership points go to the Bondi lads.
But what happens after that if they drift further from the title race?
Does Robinson and the Roosters need to look at Walker’s long-term health and development and give him a break?
The son of former NRL half Ben was man-of-the-match in his first appearance for the club and Robinson admitted then he was worried for the kid born in the United Kingdom.
“The worry’s not the footy – his size is,” Robinson told The Sydney Morning Herald at the time.
New Broncos Head of Football Ben Ikin defended his club for losing the prodigy to their rivals in the Harbour City.
Speaking on SEN, Ikin was asked about the Broncos being forced to watch juniors Reece Walsh and Walker star in others teams in 2021.
Interestingly, Ikin hinted that the Broncos were happy to keep Walker in cotton wool far longer than the Roosters have.
“Sam Walker’s been another example where they [Broncos] had an idea of what they wanted to pay Sam and how long they thought he’d take to develop,” Ikin explained.
“The Roosters had a different idea and what the Roosters offered Sam was more appealing than the Broncos.
“There’s this whole assessment process that you go through when you look at the player, you make a value judgement on how good they are, how quickly they’re going to get where they need to be, and what you’re going to pay to get them there.
“If what you offer isn’t as attractive as the next club then you can sometimes get burned.”
In round 8, the little pivot was hit by Newcastle enforcer Jacob Saifiti with Twitter’s @NRLPhysio explaining the repercussions of the direct shot to Walker’s shoulder.
“AC joint injuries are commonly played through; low risk of long term/permanent damage & controlled well with pain medication/padding. But higher risk of symptom aggravation with direct blow, possibly caused further damage. Will likely require further injections to play out game.”
Walker was on the end of some bruising contact against the Storm in their last start.
Former Roosters coach Phil Gould was in commentary that night for Channel Nine…
“He’s going to need a spell this kid before the end of the year,” Gould quipped after Walker was smashed by Storm enforcer Christian Welch.
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“They can’t keep him going every week at this age.
“They’ve got to be kind. He’s had some shoulder issues. If he’s going to be your future, you’ve got to look after him at this age.”
Roosters fans may not like this but a losing streak might be the best medicine for the rookie star because it might mean the club does indeed rest him.
It could be the best thing to ever happen to him.