CHRIS Walker concedes he may be accused of being biased, but the former Maroons flyer is adamant it is only a matter of time before his nephew, Roosters sensation Sam Walker, plays State of Origin for Queensland.
The 18-year-old is the talk of the rugby league world following his head-spinning entry to the NRL in the past month and the good news for Maroons fans is Walker is a born-and-bred Queenslander.
The son of former Broncos playmaker Ben Walker, the Ipswich-born rising star made his top-grade debut in Round 4 and looked as calm as a 10-year veteran as he steered the Roosters to a 32-12 defeat of the Warriors.
Since his nerveless debut, Walker has scored two tries from his first four games, plus five try assists and five line-break assists to confirm his status as one of rugby league’s hottest playmaking prospects.
With Queensland skipper and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans turning 33 in February, the Maroons need to plan for the future, and FOG No.122 Chris Walker says Sam would be a perfect successor in the No.7 Origin jumper.
“If he stays fit and keeps working hard, I have no doubt he will play Origin and play for Australia,” said Walker, the 151-game NRL veteran who played six Origin games for the Maroons between 2001-02.
“The one remarkable attribute Sam has got is that nothing fazes him. He just doesn’t feel pressure.
“And he has a remarkable football brain. When he was seven years old, he would watch games on TV with his dad Ben and he would say, ‘How come they didn’t go down the short side there, they had a three on two?’.
“From his youngest days, he could just read a football game.
“At Ipswich Jets training I saw him do some incredible things. He would do opposed sessions against the Queensland Cup Jets team as a 15-year-old, and the first graders couldn’t get their hands on him.
“Sam can honestly be anything in the game. He will bring the NRL back to the days when great playmakers like Allan Langer, Johnathan Thurston and Andrew Johns played on instinct.
“As fans, we are crying out for natural playmakers. Sam has the ability to be as good as those three in my eyes with the way he plays. But he has a long, long way to go to achieve what those guys have in the game.
“Sam has more talent in his little finger than I did in my whole body, and I played State of Origin.”
Walker has already represented the Queensland under-18s, playing a starring role in the junior Maroons’ 34-12 defeat of the Blues in 2019.
Queensland under-18s coaches were stunned not only by Walker’s confidence, but his understanding of the game.
In video sessions, the rookie playmaker picked apart his NSW opponents with ease, pointing out their flaws and how the Maroons could expose them.
Walker was born in 2002, the year his uncle Chris played the last of his six State of Origin games for Queensland.
Walker, who has also represented the Australian Schoolboys, idolised Thurston growing up and is determined to emulate ‘JT’ by playing for Queensland in the code’s toughest arena.
“I’m a Rooster through and through, but I’m a passionate Queenslander,” he said.
“Hopefully one day I can play State of Origin. It’s a dream of mine to wear that Maroon jumper at the senior level.
“At the moment, I need to prove myself in the NRL, but down the track I have that ambition to represent Queensland. My uncle Chris did it, and I would love to follow in his footsteps and I know how proud my family would be if I played Origin.”
Walker’s manager Clinton Schifcofske, FOG No.128 who played two Origin games for Queensland in 2002 and 2006, is blown away by the youngster’s talent.
“Sam is a special young playmaker,” he said.
“The good players are always one or two plays ahead, but I have watched him play since he was 14 and Sam is four or five plays ahead of everyone else.
“The great thing is there is no ego about the kid. He is down-to-earth, and determined to learn his trade at the Roosters.
“It’s good to know he is a Queenslander … his instincts are frightening.”