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Roosters halfback Sam Walker.

"Walker's on!" is a phrase synonymous with State of Origin and Chris Walker, but one he's only too happy to pass down to his nephew Sam.

After a blistering start to his NRL career, with nine try assists and three tries in five matches for the Roosters, 18-year-old Sam Walker has already shown himself to be a seriously gifted playmaker.

Following a masterclass against the Knights last week in which he set up four tries, the Eels will be watching out for the lightweight No.7 in Friday night's top-four clash at Bankwest Stadium.

Walker's battle with Eels half Mitchell Moses is arguably the biggest of the game.

The brilliant start Sam has made to life in the top grade has family members, teammates and rivals all taking notice, even to the extent where Chris Walker is happy to hand over a piece of rugby league folklore.

Like Chris, whose entrance off the bench in game one of the 2002 Origin series prompted Blues trainer Nathan Brown to repeatedly yell "Walker's on!", the halfback is putting defenders on notice.

Eels v Roosters - Round 9

Joining the NRL Podcast this week, Chris quipped that the exciting rookie "hasn't stolen" the Walker's on call, "he's borrowed it for a bit".

"If I've got to hand it to anyone, I would gladly package it up in a little gold package with a little red bow on the top and give it to him," said Chris, who played six Origins for Queensland and 151 NRL games.

"He can do with it what he wants. And, hopefully, we'll be able to see 'Walker's on' back in Origin. He can't have it, he can borrow it.

"I'm glad you mentioned that because [my wife] Courtney and I were having a bit of a laugh about that the other day.

"I saw it on one of the social media places where they did a 'Walker's on' call. It was of Origin but it was all [NRL highlights] of Sam."

Even to Chris, Sam's composure is something to behold.

"He's one hell of a talent. He's really down-to-earth – he just doesn't feel pressure. It's amazing, his attitude towards pressure," he said.

The rising Rooster is a product of his environment, with his father Ben and uncles Shane and Chris paving an NRL path before him.

And he is close family friends with Panthers star Kurt Capewell, who also left Ipswich to forge his way into the big league.

"My mum babysat his old man, babysat all the Walker boys actually, so we've been friends with them forever," said Capewell, almost nine years Sam's senior, who attended his debut against the Warriors.

Walker floats a ball across to Tupou for the opener

"He's a good kid and is going well. Loves his footy and you could tell that from when he was younger. Always had a ball in his hand."

Sam recently told NRL.com of Capewell's influence on him.

"He went to the same high school that I went to, he was a boarder so often on the weekends he'd come to my house and stay with us and play with us kids in the backyard," Walker said.

"He's sort of done the same thing as I did, moved to Sydney at a young age. He's been huge for me. He's an awesome bloke to talk to.

"Someone from back home in Queensland as well. Someone you can just talk to and have a normal conversation with, he's been really good for me.

Razzle-dazzle Roosters in again through Walker

"He's obviously got a few pieces of advice for myself, even if we don't want to talk about footy we can talk about other things outside of footy so that's been really good for me as well."

Chris Walker attributes Sam's cool head to a nurturing environment at the Roosters and the footballing platform laid by Ben and Shane, who coached the Ipswich Jets to Intrust Super Cup success.

"Ben and Shane obviously have worked with Sam ever since he was a kid – and he still is a kid – but under Trent Robinson, he knows his strength. And his strength is backyard footy," Chris said.

"We call it backyard footy, everyone else calls it eyes-up footy.

"But backyard football is where you hone your skills. You chip, chase and you look up and play what's in front of you with the kids in the neighbourhood. That's what we've been doing since we were kids.

"That's what he's been doing with his brothers all around the place.

"On the back of that … I was at the Roosters [from 2003-05]. I know exactly how they run there and the professionalism of that club is second-to-none. Right from the top, you look at Nick Politis.

"He's the man that's running the show and he's a very, very successful businessman and that filters down into the team."

Teammates and opponents alike have marvelled at Sam's confident, freewheeling style of play, including those zinging cut-out balls.

Sharks captain Wade Graham, whose team Walker helped defeat by inspiring a late comeback in round five, also came into first grade as a teenager and knows the challenge that it brings.

More razzle dazzle, more points for Roosters

"He's been super impressive. He's obviously a talented kid, he understands the game," Graham said.

"He gets around the field really well, knows where he's supposed to be, and he's in a great system over there at the Roosters.

"If you're a young guy coming through, certainly someone like Trent Robinson is going to be the biggest benefit for you.

"He's a good kid and I think it's there for everyone to see that he's going to be around for a long time."

Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks is another who has dealt with high expectations after being thrust into the limelight at 18.

"For such a young kid to be doing what he's doing, [Walker] is obviously going to be a superstar," Brooks said.

Walker has the ball on a string for Josh Morris to get a hat-trick!

"It's pretty amazing to see what he's able to do at such a young age. [The hard part is] probably getting used to tackling older, bigger guys. Week-to-week games get tough because you're still growing."

Roosters second-rower Angus Crichton is "proud" of Walker, who has kept calm despite the Tricolours suffering from a hefty injury toll.

"I'm proud of the way he's playing, I'm proud of the way he's handling himself," Crichton told reporters on Monday.

"I've seen him perform like that at training for months now, almost a year. I remember when he first walked in – he would've been 16 … He didn't look like an NRL player and now the way he's playing ... I'm really proud of him and he's done it all himself."

And Parramatta have kept an eye on the young gun.

"I've seen a few little clips [of Walker] that we've been watching. Well, I have, personally," Ryan Matterson said.

"He's going good, he's going really good. Especially in a side that has a lot of injuries, he's definitely taken ownership of that team."

Blake Ferguson added: "He's a halfback so everything [the Roosters] do comes off him. He's a really good young player, we'll be looking to try to nullify his strengths and win the game against him."

 

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