16 Sep 2021

NRL Preview

NRL Preview

By Brad Walter

Sydney Roosters halfback Lachlan Lam is happy to continue sharing game time with Leeds-born teen star Sam Walker if it helps the Trent Robinson-coached team to stay alive in the NRL finals series.

The Roosters take on Manly in Friday’s semi-final at Mackay after Robinson sent Walker on to replace Lam for the final nine minutes of last weekend’s elimination final against Gold Coast and the 19-year-old kicked the match winning field goal.

Lam, whose first game of rugby league was for Wigan St Pats while living in England when his father Adrian – the current Wigan coach – played for the Warriors, will again partner former Leigh playmaker Drew Hutchison in the halves but Walker is expected to replace him at some stage.

“It’s whatever we need to win and if that is what Robbo and the coaches feel is needed at the time I am happy with that,” Lam said of Walker, who was born in Leeds in 2003 when his father Ben played for the Rhinos.

“Obviously you want to be on there for the whole game but if that’s what we need I am happy to do that as long as we are still winning.”

While Walker’s drop goal proved the difference in last weekend’s 25-24 elimination of the Titans, it was the performance and leadership of Roosters captain James Tedesco that steered his side home.

Tedesco, who represented Italy at the 2017 World Cup but is now likely to skipper the Kangaroos in next year’s tournament, will go head to head with Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic and the duel between the pair is expected to play a large role in determining the outcome of the match.

“I think Teddy is one of the best players in the game and I feel like the more times he has his hands on the ball the better it is for our team,” Lam said. “He is just a footy player and he is on everything.

“As a growing footballer and someone who is trying to improve my game it is good to see him doing that every week and to learn lessons off him because he wants the ball all the time.”

The winner of the Roosters-Sea Eagles semi-final will play the Wayne Bennett coached South Sydney, whose team includes England prop Tom Burgess, in next Friday’s qualifying final for a place in the grand final.

The Rabbitohs upset Penrith 16-10 last weekend and the Panthers’s fourth loss of the season means they now face Parramatta on Saturday for the right to meet Melbourne in the qualifying final after the Storm’s 40-6 thrashing of Manly.

Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards and forwards Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen, whose uncle Kurt played 244 matches for Widnes, return from injury for the sudden death clash with the Eels, who defeated Newcastle 28-20 last Sunday.