Roosters’ Sam Walker will bounce back in 2024: Fittler

Jasper Bruce |

Sam Walker (pictured) has received the backing of Brad Fittler to stamp his class on the Roosters.
Sam Walker (pictured) has received the backing of Brad Fittler to stamp his class on the Roosters.

Club legend Brad Fittler is convinced Sam Walker will prove himself as the Sydney Roosters’ long-term halfback in 2024 by bouncing back from a difficult year.

Coach Trent Robinson dropped the 2021 Dally M rookie of the year last April and the 21-year-old’s path back to the NRL became blocked when he sprained his anterior cruciate ligament shortly afterwards.

After his axing, reports emerged Walker had clashed with Roosters halves consultant Cooper Cronk and had been shopped to the Dolphins by a third party despite being contracted through 2025.

Four months after he was dropped, Walker returned for the penultimate game before the finals and memorably won the Roosters their elimination final against Cronulla with a field goal.

Fittler spent time at Roosters pre-season training this week and left convinced the 21-year-old would keep his form going into 2024 and assert himself as the club’s long-term halfback.

“Without a doubt,” he said.

“He looks in great shape. He had a smile. It was good to have a chat with him about footy.

“You’ve got to remember he’s young, so every time you speak to him, he looks more mature.

“There’s going to be a process of him growing up and I feel like he’s done a bit of that. 

“All the good players have some setbacks and recover – and he’s one of them.”

Brad fittler during his time as NSW Blues coach.
Former NSW coach Fittler is expecting a warm welcome north of the border. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

As Walker and the Roosters prepare for their round-one clash with Brisbane in Las Vegas, Fittler will spend the next two weeks spruiking the game on home soil.

The 51-year-old’s annual Hogs tour began on Friday, with Fittler set to ride a motorbike some 6000km to hold rugby league clinics and promote the game in regional towns.

Fittler, who undertook the first ride in 2013, will be joined along the way by rugby league figures including Preston Campbell, Luke Lewis, Emma Tonegato and Petero Civoniceva.

“We now get to go into Queensland, which could be unsafe, I’m not sure,” the former NSW coach joked.

“Hopefully (Petero) can save us in Queensland, with Ben Hannant and a few others as well.

“At the end of the day, it was always about getting kids invested in rugby league. It’s a nice way for the game to give before the craziness of the season starts.”

AAP