Walker's life as NRL son set up calm debut

Sam Walker has grown up in the NRL all his life, and it helped him handle the hype surrounding his own assured debut for the Sydney Roosters.

Sam Walker's life as the son of an NRL star helped prepare him for one of the most anticipated teenage debuts in recent memory.

Walker's Sydney Roosters bow on Sunday came almost two years after he was recruited from Brisbane amid headlines of being Cooper Cronk's replacement.

The Queenslander's name no doubt only added to that too, as the son of Ben and nephew of Shane and former Queensland State of Origin player Chris.

There had been a sense of inevitability about 18-year-old Walker's debut ever since he signed, even when COVID-19 meant no football for him in 2020.

After all the waiting, the halfback barely put a foot wrong for the Roosters in his debut against the Warriors, playing a part in two tries while also kicking well and holding his own in defence.

But what was arguably more impressive than what he did was how he looked doing it in his first night of filling the injured Luke Keary's jersey for the rest of the season.

The hype and pressure around his debut would have worn down players far older and more hardened than him.

But not Walker, who has grown up in the life of the NRL bubble and seen first-hand how to deal with the expectations.

"I don't try to worry about (all the hype and headlines) too much," Walker said.

"My old man and my uncles are there who have really guided me. They obviously went through it when they were coming through in the NRL.

"Obviously Robbo (coach Trent Robinson) and Coops (Cronk) have been there for me too.

"And then Kez (Keary) has been huge for me, especially this week just helping me and transitioning me into the halfback role."

Walker's history paid off as much physically as mentally.

Sunday's game was officially just his sixth game against men, after previously having played two trials and three NSW Cup games.

But he spent his teenage years training with the Ipswich Queensland Cup side his father coached, before also running opposed at Roosters sessions last year with no NSW Cup competition.

"You train every day against the best forward pack in the NRL," Walker said.

"So it was not a lot different to our training sessions. I took that mindset in."

Walker's composure was also not lost on Robinson, who has seen several players debut and noted the different ways youngsters deal with it.

But while Walker's was more high-profile than most, Robinson revealed he did not need to speak to the teenager about dealing with the hype.

"He's grown up around footy and Ben has done an amazing job with him both as a skilled player and also his temperament," Robinson said.

"He's really easy to manage. It's just getting started, but it was nice to see the kid out there."