NRL Rd 1 - Dolphins v Roosters
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 05: Brandon Smith of the Roosters in action during the round one NRL match between the Dolphins and Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium on March 05, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Sydney Roosters have confirmed both Sam Walker and Brandon Smith are working to return through the NSW Cup this weekend.

The Roosters have the bye in the NRL, but the duo could get some valuable minutes under their belts before pushing for NRL selection against the Melbourne Storm the following Saturday in Round 20.

Smith, who is recovering from a thumb injury, was always forecast to return around this point of the season, but it has been a far longer road to recovery for halfback Sam Walker.

The young gun was originally due back as much as a month ago from an MCL injury, but recovery complications have kept him sidelined after he had originally been dropped from the NRL side to the reserve grade outfit.

As of Tuesday afternoon, neither the Roosters nor North Sydney Bears - who work as a second affiliate to the Roosters in the final year of a partnership between the two clubs - have named either of the duo for Sunday's respective clashes. The Roosters play the Newcastle Knights at Wentworth Park, while the Bears travel to HE Laybutt Field at Blacktown to take on the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles, who are linked with the Manly Sea Eagles.

Both players could be parachuted into teams later in the week, with a Roosters statement confirming they are working on proving their fitness to return this weekend.

It's bad news elsewhere at the club though, with Sitili Tupouniua to have surgery on a disc in his neck.

Original reports suggested it could be season over for the second-rower, but the Roosters are yet to confirm or deny those reports. An eight-week recovery to play again in the regular season may be a stretch though for the forward given the nature of the surgery, with the Roosters no guarantee of making the finals beyond that.

Jake Turpin, who suffered a HIA during Sunday's clash against the Sea Eagles, will be available for Round 20 against the Storm given the 11-day concussion period will conclude before that game.

The Roosters will likely need to win five or six of their last eight games to qualify for the finals.