The Roar
The Roar


'His best defensive performance in the NRL': How Robbo's tough love led to Sam Walker's tackle perfect night

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1st September, 2023

There’s plenty out there who have taken pot shots at Roosters halfback Sam Walker for his defensive work.

Chief among them might well have been his coach, Trent Robinson, who famously banished the young gun from the top grade earlier this year to work on his tackling.

It means a lot, then, when the coach described his showing in Friday night’s derby win over South Sydney as “possibly his best defensive performance in the NRL”.

Walker was relentlessly targeted by the Bunnies’ left edge, widely regarded as one of the best in the comp, but held up to the onslaught with a perfect record of 20 tackles made, zero missed.

“That’s the first time in my career!” joked Walker.

“I’m stoked, it’s something I work on continuously. We knew they had a dangerous left edge attack and where they were going to come.

“We had a younger team out there, on our edge especially, and the boys really stood up and helped me with that.


“There was a bit to be worked on there. It’s awesome to be back playing footy again and being back in this team.”

Robinson praised his defence, and added that it empowered his halfback to put on the best of his attack.

“He supported, pushed the team around, kicked the team into good positions and then he does his bits on the back of it,” said the coach.

“The long pass, the cut back inside, the try at the end, the combination play on the short side – he’s got all that top end stuff. That was as complete a game as he’s got to, and he’s got so much more in him.”

Walker backed himself to play that style of footy, but passed the glory onto his teammate Luke Keary, with whom he has quickly rekindled his partnership.

“I’m not the best structured footballer, but if I can my little bit of the way I play into the game, that’s my job and what I have to do and the role I play in the team,” said the Queenslander.


“He (Keary) has been awesome, he’s playing unbelievable footy at the moment. Any time there’s a big moment, he’s all over it. He’s a big game player and that’s why he’s been at the top of the game for such a long time. Stepping back in, he’s giving me a great deal of confidence.

“We’ve spent a lot of time together, it’s been pretty easy. Once you’ve played as many games as we have together, it’d be over 30 NRL games easily now, you just step back in and get going.

“I’ve spent a lot of time watching how the boys have been playing. I don’t try to change too much, just step in and play my natural game. Lucky it came off tonight.”