Last season placing: 1st (knocked out week 3 finals series)
After their 2013 triumph, the Sydney Roosters took out the 2014 minor premiership but lost two of their three finals matches to bow out in the preliminary final against eventual premiers the South Sydney Rabbitohs. They have lost a club legend in Anthony Minichiello and his experience and consistency will not be easy to replace. Sonny Bill Williams has also departed, although his impact was slightly less in 2014. They enter 2015 knowing first choice hooker Jake Friend will miss several weeks as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery and with Daniel Mortimer’s mid season switch to the Gold Coast Titans mid-way through 2014, they are suddenly looking a little light-on in one of the most important positions in the modern game. They have recruited troubled outside back Blake Ferguson and it will be interesting to see how the former Raider and Shark adjusts to life back in the NRL. The Roosters have one of the best rosters in the NRL but have been at the top of the tree for the last two years and need to maintain their intensity.
Key Players: Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney will lead the side around, with Maloney equal with Jonathan Thurston for points scored last year (234). Pearce and Maloney were dumped from Laurie Daley’s NSW Origin side but this seemed to revitalise them and they enjoyed a purple patch of form. Michael Jennings and Daniel Tupou will pose a constant threat while Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has big shoes to fill, replacing Minichiello at fullback. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves remains the leader of the pack and needs to know when to play aggressive and when to play smart as he often treads a fine line.
Drawbacks: Anthony Minichiello was the backbone of the club for a decade, providing consistency, poise and toughness in arguably the most important position in the modern game. You simply can’t replace his 302 first grade games, 11 Origins and 19 Tests. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck spent time at fullback during 2014 but it’s a whole new ballgame spending entire games at the back, week in, week out. They also have few options at hooker with Jake Friend’s delayed start to 2015. Matt McIlwrick was recruited from the Raiders but is an unknown prospect, playing 19 games over 3 seasons between 2012-2014.
Story of 2015: Blake Ferguson. We all know he has talent, and lots of it. Unfortunately his off-field issues have thus far overshadowed his on-field performances for the Sharks, Raiders and NSW and all eyes will be on the 24-year old in his return to the NRL. He needs to work hard and let his football do the talking and if he can stay level-headed, he could become a vital weapon for the Roosters in 2015.
Ladder: Top 4
Top Try Scorer: Daniel Tupou
Top Points Scorer: James Maloney
Player of the Year: Jared Waerea Hargreaves