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Next-Man-Up Mentality Driving Roosters in Charge to Finals

It has been one of the consistent storylines for the Sydney Roosters in 2021, and both Sam Walker and Dale Copley have backed the Club's 'next-man-up' mentality to spur them into the finals as the side faces further reshuffling this week against the St George Illawarra Dragons. 

With Victor Radley unavailable for the next three weeks, the experienced Copley backed the Club's ability to handle the situation, while the rookie halfback reinforced the hard-hitting lock's playing style and praised him for his mentorship. 

“It’s disappointing but I suppose it’s next man up,” Copley said.

“The Club’s been through a fair bit with players in and out this year and it hasn’t seemed to faze them out too much so whoever Robbo (Trent Robinson) names will do the job and everyone’s pretty confident in that.

“But it’s footy and we’ll move on.”

“He’s an amazing player," Walker added. 

“He’s also a great person off the field as well. You wouldn’t want him to change the way he plays at all. For us as a team it’s disappointing.

“But the impact he’s had on my career is enormous already, not just the way he hits but the way he ball plays as well. It makes a halfback’s job easy out there.”

Making his NRL debut back in Round 4 at the tender age of eighteen, Walker commended the Club and its leaders for his transition to first-grade, while the experienced winger said his recent move back to the Club has been just as seamless after playing his first game in the Tricolours since 2016 on the weekend. 

Round 23 Media - Dale Copley

“It’s an amazing Club,” said Walker.

“I’ve been here since I was sixteen and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. The Club, the professionalism and the people they have really make this place.

“Kez (Luke Keary) has been enormous, especially back in Sydney. He’s gone through it as a halfback as well and he’s always there to help me. He’s always there for a chat and there’s no better person to talk to. 

“We’ve also got a lot of leaders here as well in Jazza (Jared Waerea-Hargreaves), Teddy (James Tedesco) and those boys, the captains of our Club. They’ve been enormous for me.

“I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I love the Club, I love the people at this Club.”

Round 23 Media - Sam Walker

“It’s been a busy couple of weeks,” Copley said of his recent move. 

“I knew about half the squad from when I was here last time, and pretty much all the coaches so that’s made it as seamless as it could be.

“There was still a fair bit to digest but I’ve wrapped my head around it and we’re all good.”

“There’s just a real confidence about what they do and what works and everyone just has to do their job – that’s probably the biggest thing walking in.

“Everyone was confident about what they had to do and what they wanted from each position. It makes your job a lot easier when you’re not worrying about anyone else.

“Things have changed - the game has changed since I was here, last but there was a lot of familiarity around it too."

Despite coming away with a thrilling one-point victory against the Brisbane Broncos, the pair conceded that improvement needed to be made when coming against the Dragons this weekend.

Steggles Try of the Week - Round 22

“The last five minutes of that Broncos game were pretty frantic,” Walker said.

“I made a couple of mistakes in that game which I’d like back, but in the end, you’ve got to move on. You’ve got to do your best for the team and I’ll be bigger and better next week and learn from those mistakes.

“You learn a lot from those older boys at the Roosters. They say it’s fine to make mistakes but it’s about how you bounce back from them. I thought we did that really well.

“We really hurt ourselves with how much ball we dropped,” stated Copley.

VB Hard Earned Effort - Round 22

“I think our completion rate was under 70% which makes it really hard to win games. We were still able to and it was a crazy end to the game.

“But I think our ball control and being able to stay composed and not back our errors up was the biggest takeaway.

“They’re dealing with a few injuries too to key players. We’re under no illusions. They’re still sitting in their own little spot and they’re competing for those last couple of spots.

“They’ll be up for it – there’s no doubt about that. Their coach will have them ready to go and they’ll be a tough side to beat.

“They’ll work extremely hard so we’ve got to be good, improve on what we did last week and we’re all aware of that.”


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Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.