Sydney Roosters rookie Sam Walker’s move in Canterbury Bulldogs game questioned by Peter Sterling
Parramatta legend Peter Sterling admits Sam Walker’s surprise final-minute move in the Bulldogs clash was “a smart play”, but he says it’s one sight in rugby league that doesn’t feel right.
Walker polarised the rugby league world when, as the Roosters led the Bulldogs 22-16 with 21 seconds left on the clock in Saturday’s match, he received the footy deep in Canterbury territory and dashed 85 metres in the opposite direction. The teen Roosters halfback eventually ran the ball into touch as the full-time siren rung out, ruling out any possibility of a late Bulldogs try.
Former Roosters captain Boyd Cordner shook his head as he watched on from the coaches’ box, Balmain legend Garry Jack labelled the move “a brain explosion” and Fox League commentator Andrew Voss went harder, branding the play “arrogant”.
Sterling has likened the move to the moment Manly superstar Tom Trbojevic stopped in the in-goal area in Round 17 and passed the ball to his brother Ben, who was yet to score a try in the NRL. While the Bunker disallowed the try due to an obstruction, Sterling said the sight of Trbjoevic trying to gift his brother his first NRL try didn’t sit well with him.
“I’d rather be critical of a player for a smart play than a dumb play. That (the Walker move) was a smart play,” Sterling said on Wide World of Sports’ The Final Whistle.
“I didn’t like a few weeks back when Manly scored, Tom Trbojevic got over the line and found his brother and passed the ball to him to put it down.
“There are standards in first grade and NRL that you need to meet and they don’t sit comfortably with me.
“I’d hate to think that when Ben Trbojevic does look back on his first try in first grade – and that one was called back because something happened previously. But that wouldn’t be the one that you want to remember, where your brother just handed it to you and you didn’t have to work too hard.
“That kind of falls into the same category (as the Walker one) for me.
“But like I say, it’s hard to be critical of a smart play instead of a dumb play – and there was nothing dumb about that.”
Tony Iro pulled a similar trick in Adelaide Rams colours in 1998, running in the opposite direction and across the field to kill the final 40 seconds of a clash with St George.
And as the full-time siren sounded to end Game Two of the 2014 State of Origin series, Jarryd Hayne ran the ball dead and jumped into the crowd.
Voss believes Walker’s move disrespected the last-placed Bulldogs, who fought back from 10 points down to lock scores up at 16-all during the second half.
“This is ridiculous! I don’t know whether Trent Robinson is all that impressed with that,” Voss said.
“That is a little arrogant, the play to finish the match, taking a little bit of ‘you know what’ out of the effort that was put in by the two sides tonight.”
Despite Voss’ assumption that Robinson would not like Walker’s antics, the Roosters coach laughed it off in his post-match press conference.
“Sammy, he’s smart. He knows all the time on the clock … It’s a different play and I think everyone will have their opinion on it,” Robinson said with a grin.
“He knows how to manage everything and he’s learning how to play all the tough parts of the game and then all the smart parts of the game can come on the back of that.
“It’s smart to manage the clock but it goes against what purists would say.
“But he took the risk out of the last play and finished the game off.”
Walker explained the play himself in a Fox League interview moments after the move.
“I was thinking, ‘I’m not going to take a field goal and give them another chance with the footy’,” Walker laughed.
“I thought I’d run the clock out.”
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