Teen sensation decides $1m Roosters future
Sam Walker has pledged his future to the Roosters with the NRL's hottest halfback prospect rejecting a return to the Broncos as he prepares to ink a deal that will make him the code's next $1 million teenager.
In the only interview on his future, Walker ruled out going home to Queensland or any code defection with one-time suitors Rugby Australia as his management ramp-up talks on a multi-year upgrade with the Roosters.
The former Broncos scholarship holder is the talk of the rugby league world following his sublime debut scoring a try and setting up another in the Roosters' 26-20 trial defeat of Canberra last Saturday night.
The 18-year-old is off-contract at season's end and has fielded interest from several clubs, but Walker has no interest in a bidding war, with the classy playmaker declaring he is staying at Bondi for the long haul.
"I won't be leaving the Roosters," said Walker, whose father Ben and uncle Shane played a combined 285 first-grade games.
"There's a bit of talk but I love the club and it's the best place for me.
"The first step for me is getting back to playing some football after 18 months out (due to the COVID saga), so I want to show the Roosters what I'm capable of and earn the right to get a new contract.
"It's honestly a no-brainer for me. I love the Roosters. I'm keen to repay their faith. I'm not going anywhere. I plan to stay here long-term."
News Corp understands Walker's extension with the Roosters will be finalised over the next eight weeks.
The parties have discussed a range of options, including a two or three-year arrangement which would keep the Queensland under-18s dynamo at the Bondi glamour club until the end of 2024.
Two years ago, a raft of clubs chased the boom halfback, including the Broncos, Titans and Rugby Australia, who were keen to pounce on Walker's experience in the 15-a-side code playing in the GPS system at Ipswich Grammar.
But the Roosters prevailed then and they will get their man again, with Walker set to command more than $300,000 a season with his upgrade. Over a three-year term, Walker will become one of Australian sport's richest teenagers.
Big bucks, however, are not the motivating force for Walker, who is so fit he has clocked 12km in GPS data readings at Roosters training, some 3km more than his more senior teammates.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson is tipped to deploy Luke Keary and Lachlan Lam in the halves for their round-one clash against Manly on Saturday week, but Walker believes he could handle an NRL baptism.
"I feel I'm ready for the NRL," he said.
"Last year with the extended pre-season we had, it was almost a blessing in disguise because I've had to work on my skills and it's given me time to know the NRL players.
"I honestly believe it has held me in good stead to play regular NRL this year so if 'Robbo' chose me, I would take it with both hands.
"The pressure doesn't bother me. I know there is always hype around young guys and there's expectations to perform well, but I have my own standards.
"If you do the work off the field it makes it easier to execute it on the field, so I keep my focus on that."
Of his maiden senior Roosters outing at Seiffert Oval last week, Walker said: "It was crazy.
"In the sheds just before we ran out, I looked around at a guy like James Tedesco (Roosters, Origin and Test fullback) and couldn't believe it was happening.
"I was listening to Brett Morris and Joey Manu on my edge talking to me and it was amazing to think I was playing with guys who have won NRL premierships."
Storm and Roosters playmaking great Cooper Cronk has taken on a mentoring role with Walker, who was viewed as a target for a possible second Brisbane team under the NRL's expansion plans for 2023.
But the Ipswich product has no plans to return to Queensland, lauding the influence of Roosters coach Robinson.
"I had interest from rugby but when you get on the inside and see how the Roosters operate and the way Robbo coaches and the style he wants, it's the only club for me," he said.
"Coming to the club, I have understood the culture of the Roosters more.
"It's not just the players, it's all the people at the club and the standards they have.
"After one meeting with Trent Robinson, I knew he was the coach for me. He is so smart. He encourages me and lets me play the sort of football I want to play.
"Cooper Cronk has been great for me in the last year or so. It's pretty mind-blowing to have someone as great as he was helping me out."
Originally published as Teen sensation decides $1m Roosters future