Paul Kent believes the Roosters decision to drop Sam Walker has the potential to start a domino effect that could lead to a number of changes in the NRL halves ranks.
Walker broke his silence on his axing and vowed to fight for his spot as he plots a long-term career at the Roosters, which Kent commended.
“It’s exactly what you want to hear from him,” Kent said on NRL 360.
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“He is a guy that’s got dropped and he is going to fight to get his position back. I think that’s admirable from Sam Walker.
“I think it is actually quite mature coming from some of the conversations we have had about others this week.
“He has gone away and copped a kick in the guts and he is going to work hard to get back.
“I sound older and older every time I say it, but that’s just the way it works.
“I just don’t get why there is this belief from players that once you get picked in first grade you have a divine right to stay there. You just don’t.
“It is a professional sport and a performance based game. It is supposed to be the elite level and yet the minute somebody doesn’t have things go their way the toys go out of the cot.
“Sam Walker should be congratulated for the way he has handled this. He has not sooked. Even then the first interview he has done, he has done nothing but admit that things aren’t exactly as he would like, but he is going to fight to get the spot back.
“There is not a better way that could have been handled.”
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James Hooper agreed that Walker has handled his axing perfectly, but that won’t stop rival clubs from making a play for his services.
“He is a class act Sam Walker,” Hooper said.
“Only 20 years of age and if you watched the way he played in NSW Cup against the Warriors last week. He was outstanding.
“In the opening half he was involved in everything, scored a try and set two up.
“To me he is too good a player to not be featuring in the NRL on a regular basis and I think as much as Sam has been very respectful and positive to the Roosters there, I think behind the scenes there are a lot of other teams that are cuing up and making their inquiries to how exactly it is going to play out.”
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Kent believes Walker will be focusing on his footy, but his manager will be listening to what rivals have to say and the Roosters can’t keep him unless he is playing first grade consistently.
“They are making inquiries and his manager in the modern world is doing the right thing and actually saying, Sam has got no idea,” Kent said.
“You go and concentrate on getting your footy back and see how you go. Meanwhile, let’s just see what the other clubs have got to offer.
“Because at some point if the Roosters settle on the combination of Keary and Manu as their No.6 and No.7 going forward, Sam Walker is on $700,000 a year.
“He becomes superfluous in their salary cap. You just can’t afford to carry a bloke on that much money.
“So they have to begin to look at moving him on. So everybody has handled this the right way. The club has handled it the right way. The player has handled it the right way and the manager is handling it the right way.”
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Kent believes the NRL transfer market is so fluid that there are always opportunities for movement and Walker and Ben Hunt’s situations could spark a feeding frenzy.
“The other clubs who are out there, the interesting part to all this is we only just spoke about how when Wighton left how difficult it was going to be for the Raiders to find another playmaker,” Kent said.
“All the managers had their playmakers coming off-contract last year, so all the good halves are in the first year of multi-year deals this year because of the way the salary cap worked.
“But what this has done combined with the Ben Hunt situation is suddenly there is a bit of movement around there now.
“A few teams that didn’t see much light at the end of the tunnel are saying, hang on Ben Hunt might move on, Sam Walker might move on and suddenly we might get a bit of shifting of the deck chairs.
“They are dominoes, once one goes they all go.”
Anasta believes the whispers can start small and then lead to ripples that effect the player transfer market across the league.
“That’s why there is speculation here because there are murmurs and it could turn into a bit of a domino effect and there could be a few changes,” Anasta said.
“Nothing has been done as yet, but it could happen. That is why we are talking about it.”
Michael Carayannis believes Walker would be in line for a hefty pay rise if he left the Roosters given the lack of quality halfbacks available.
“If he is on $700,000 Walker will be the first player to get cut to get a pay rise,” Carayannis said.
“Clubs will be lining up for him there is no doubt about that. Sam Walker is not a tough sell.
“We are getting to the stage where we are mentioning Hunt and Walker, but one thing that hasn’t happened is a coach being sacked.
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“Once a coach gets sacked or two coaches then that sends the transfer market into a bit of a spiral as well.”
Kent and Anasta believe Manly star Josh Schuster is another key cog in the halves transfer market.
“Schuster is the other playmaker that is coming into it as well,” Kent said.
“That’s right if he moves, which the rumours are there is a chance that he might go to the Tigers if it doesn’t work at Manly,” Anasta added.
“Then all of a sudden Manly are looking for a half because they let go of Foran to keep Schuster and it all starts.
“I have just got a feeling that it is going to happen, so keep your eyes on Schuster to the Tigers.”