Sometimes, you have to take a step back to take two steps forward, and in the case of Sam Walker, that's exactly what his NSW Cup stint will enable him to do.

It's easy to forget the star young gun, who has already represented the Prime Minister's XIII and played 51 NRL games, is only 20 years of age.

One of the NRL's youngest ever debutants, Walker has been an NRL player since the age of 18, and it means he missed out on a lot of the development most other players have.

In that, the chance to learn and refine his game.

The Leeds-born half, who played for the Queensland under-18 side and Australian Schoolboys in 2019 having excelled for the Ipswich Jets in that year's Mal Meninga Cup, made the switch to Sydney and the Roosters for the 2020 season, but then, COVID hit.

Instead of being able to continue refining, developing and improving his game, Walker was sidelined for the entire season after both the Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup competitions were cancelled outright by the New South Wales Rugby League.

As has been the case for a number of youngsters, that year of their development - and for some almost two years given the 2021 season also quickly became a write off less than halfway through in New South Wales as the pandemic continued - impacts the speed at which they progress.

That didn't overly appear to be the case for Walker though, who made his NRL debut in Round 4 of the 2021 season at the age of 18, having impressed in a pre-season trial and then during the opening three weeks of competition at reserve grade level for the North Sydney Bears.

Those three games for the Bears in 2021 saw Walker kick more than 200 metres per game and lay on five try assists, to go with 51 running metres per game and a defensive ability that was well ahead of his years.

But his time to learn and improve away from the glaring lights of the NRL was cut short the following week, with Walker making his NRL debut in Trent Robinson's side during Round 4.

No one is doubting the talent of the kid, and he has proven it plenty during his time in the NRL - with more than 50 games to his credit already - but there has been more than one occasion when his age and lack of experience has shown.

That level of need to be the on-field conductor has gone to another level in the last 12 months with a shift into the number seven jersey, moving Luke Keary back to five-eighth.

In fairness to the Roosters, when it has worked, it has really worked.

But with the squad they had put together, 2022 should have been a year which saw the Roosters go further than the first week of the finals, although, granted, they weren't helped by missing the top four after an awfully slow start to the season.

That has followed them into 2023 though, and another slow star has them sitting with a three and three record from their six games ahead of Tuesday's traditional Anzac Day encounter with the St George Illawarra Dragons at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Outside the top eight is where the Roosters find themselves, and even a win if it's by less than 12 points is no guarantee of moving them into the top eight, such has been the wildness and closeness of the start of this incredible 2023 NRL season.

That, in short though, with the squad the tri-colours have, isn't good enough.

No one is putting the blame entirely on Walker, but at the end of the day, he is the halfback, and the attack has looked both clunky and disjointed over the opening two months of the season.

Whether they can fix that by moving Keary to halfback and Joseph Manu into the number six for Tuesday's game against the Red V remains to be seen, but Walker needs more time to develop and learn.

You can do that in the NRL, but you can do it a lot easier in reserve grade, before bringing those levels back to the top.

Trent Robinson is one of the smartest coaches going around - it's not as if Walker was poor to start the season either, but he wasn't at the level required - Robinson worked that out and moved him back to the Cup.

Walker had some nice touches on Sunday against the Dragons at Wentworth Park, and will likely remain back in reserve grade for the next few weeks to continue honing his craft before getting another crack at the top level.

The 20-year-old will be back. He will be better.

He just needs to trust the process.