Sam Walker's new to the NRL but he's not new to his club, which gives Trent Robinson full confidence the rookie halfback will shine in his debut on Sunday against the Warriors.
Walker's seemingly inevitable rise to the Roosters' halfback role has been a hot topic of debate since the club released Kyle Flanagan last October and after being on the fringe of playing in recent weeks, the teenager will get his chance at the SCG after Luke Keary's season-ending knee injury.
A 12-month stint experiencing the Roosters' NRL system proved to Robinson that Walker's NRL call-up will be more than just a silver lining to a shaky 2021 campaign.
The Roosters will go into their round-four clash as favourites but are heavily undermanned in a test Robinson has not experienced as coach since the club's dreaded 2016 campaign in which they finished only above wooden spooners Newcastle.
No rookie playmaker in the game has drawn more comparisons to the likes of Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston since Walker signed with the Roosters in 2019.
Roosters v Warriors - Round 4
His personal decision to move away from his family in Queensland and head for Sydney is about to pay off for the 18-year-old but Robinson is adamant last year's break is where Walker has learnt most of his trade.
While most in reserve grade were sidelined due to COVID-19 last season, Walker remained in the Roosters' bubble to gain valuable experience as a development player.
"Any player who has been in the system for a while, it might be their first game but they know the culture of the team," Robinson said on Friday.
Robinson urges fans to support Masoe
"That's a big part of getting those guys in and getting them in and around you for a long period of time.
"They might be new to the NRL but they aren't new to your team. That was important the training of that last year and this year as well.
"There have been some areas in our team where we have been tested [this year], but that's why we have got guys who have trained a lot. They will be ready to come in and play."
And that's where Robinson is reluctant to hand an NRL debut to Joseph Suaalii so easily.
It's not that the 17-year-old whiz kid isn't talented, but he's just not quite ready after only arriving at the club from South Sydney in December.
"I want him to get that experience of being around an NRL changeroom," Robinson said of Suaalii.
"He is a step closer, he is in the 21 and I want him to get the game-day experience … put on that jersey, go and warm up. It's a good opportunity [for him] this weekend to do that.
"Then each week will be on our needs."
Stand aside: Suaalii stars in first senior match
While Robinson knows the pressure that will come with Walker's debut performance, he wants to see a lift in players around him.
The Roosters' 26-16 loss to the Rabbitohs last week looked close on the scoreboard but for most of the contest it was one-way traffic.
"We need to play a really strong game on Sunday and get some work done as a team that we didn't see last week," Robinson said.
"It's the same for everyone, whether it's someone's first game or their 200th.
"We got some harsh lessons pretty early on in the season and got what we deserved.
"For us we've got to be better than that and the only way to do it is to get stuck into it on Sunday."
Who is the NRL GOAT?
Warriors prop Addin Fonua-Blake has kept an eye on Walker leading into the SCG stoush.
"I have watched a few videos of him and he is a great player so hopefully he doesn’t play too good against us but I hope he has a good career after this weekend," he said.
"He sets up a lot of tries for people outside him and he gets their sets going forward really good so we will have to do a really good job in trying to shut him down and not give him too many options outside him to go to.
"Hopefully this weekend our edges can do a job on him and we will be working really hard for our middles to try and shut him down as well."
Meanwhile, Robinson confirmed a meeting with co-captain Jake Friend, who is sidelined indefinitely after a recent concussion, was scheduled for Monday with the club to discuss his playing future.