Roosters coach Trent Robinson admitted he's tempted to give Sam Walker an NRL debut on Sunday as the 18-year-old playmaker had met all of his requirements for determining whether young players are ready to step up.
Robinson, who must make a similar decision with 17-year-old sensation Joseph Suaalii after he was granted permission by the NRL to play before his 18th birthday in August, has named Walker in his extended round-two squad.
He may make his debut from the interchange bench at Campbelltown Stadium against the Wests Tigers. After the squad was reduced to 19 on Saturday 24 hours out from kick-off, Walker was still listed in the line-up.
"Every training session and the games that he has played has been outstanding so the temptation is there but we will see," Robinson said of Walker.
Walker played in a trial against Canberra and starred for North Sydney last weekend, producing three try assists in their 48-20 Knock On Effect NSW Cup loss to Blacktown Sea Eagles.
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If selected, he is expected to come off the bench to fill in as one of the halves, with five-eighth Lachlan Lam to take over the dummy-half duties while rookie hooker Freddy Lussick has a spell.
Asked how he knows when a rookie like Walker or Suaalii are ready for first grade, Robinson outlined three key criteria - training, games and conversations - to determine their maturity.
"It’s through the conversations that you know they are mentally going to be able to handle the rigours of first grade, not just what happens on the field but what goes around it," Robinson explained.
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"Then they have got to be able to compete against guys in reserve grade, rise above those guys and then also obviously train against the NRL guys when they are in the opposition team - and they have got to excel. We are seeing that."
However, the Roosters are in no rush to play Suaalii in the Telstra Premiership, despite being given the green light for him to become the first player under 18 to make his debut since North Queensland superstar Jason Taumalolo in 2010.
Cronulla captain Wade Graham also made his NRL debut as a 17-year-old in 2008 and he suggested to NRL.com that young players should be rested for one game in every four.
Robison said the Roosters had outlined a similar plan to the NRL with Suaalii.
"That has been definitely discussed with Joseph and with the NRL," Robinson said. "Wade obviously played at a young age as well so he knows. That is exactly what we are going to do.
"I have been quite transparent with the NRL and there is no plan about when to play him. We are not going to play him before he is ready so it is about playing him in reserve grade.
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"He excelled in the trial but needed to physically nail the game, he did better again on the weekend and he needs to keep turning up against different reserve grade teams and keep the physicality continuing in his game.
"We will keep doing that but also giving him rest when time is needed as well. The plan is prudent and we will stick with it. That doesn’t mean he will play 24 games straight."
Meanwhile, Robinson said James Tedesco’s development as a leader was behind the decision for him to share the captaincy duties with halfback Luke Keary against the Tigers in the absence of Jake Friend, who is out for at least a couple of weeks due to a head knock in last week's big win over Manly.
Tedesco, who named NSW vice-captain by coach Brad Fittler before last year’s State of Origin, captained the Blues in the second game after Roosters and Blues skipper Boyd Cordner was ruled out due to a concussion from the series opener.
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"He is a leader," Robinson said. "Freddy made him captain behind Boyd so James’s leadership continues to grow.
"I think we all know the talent he is and he has become a high-quality player who can finish big moments but then how do you lead?
"That is really the last frontier and he has really developed well into that and inside these walls as well so it was natural for him and Luke to lead our team.
"They are strong voices and they are high on strategy for us so it is time for them to take that role."