After a tumultuous 2016 the Roosters will be hoping for greener pastures in 2017. With the addition of new players to the spine like Michael Gordon and Luke Keary as well as some troubled players on their last chance like Paul Carter, the boys from Bondi will be out to atone for last year’s mistakes.
Last season placing: 15th
After winning three straight minor premierships, the Roosters came down hard in a disastrous 2016 season. The loss of three of their best players for extended periods before Round 1 had even begun was the beginning of a massive downward spiral. There was a lack of direction in the halves and drama surrounding the purportedly poor attitude of Jackson Hastings. Senior players like QLD rep Aidan Guerra and Sam Moa struggled for form which coupled with a young inexperienced squad saw the Roosters become a shadow of the dominant force they had been in seasons past. They lost their opening 5 games and by Round 20 they had only won 3 games.
A late season surge saw them record some impressive wins over the Cowboys and Broncos but it was too little too late by then. It was a season of what if’s as the Roosters lost a staggering 8 games by a margin of 4 points or less throughout the season. For all the club’s troubles it could very well have been a different story if some of those losses were converted to wins.
As it stands though 2016 served as a rebuilding year for the Roosters where some promising rookies were given a baptism of fire into the NRL. With a tough season endured by all, the Roosters will hope it serves to strengthen their mental resolve and help them build to a much improved 2017.
Mitchell Pearce- While Pearce has always attracted the ire of NSW fans, his lengthy absence from the Roosters in 2016 proved just how crucial he is to his team’s success. Pearce only played 12 games for the year and won 4 of them, accounting for 2/3 of the Roosters total victories. His leadership, strong defence and kicking game are all the important qualities he brings to the team and exactly what the Roosters lacked last season. The more often Pearce takes to the field this year, the more likely the Roosters are to win games.
Boyd Cordner- Through different circumstances Cordner was also only able to play 12 games for the Roosters in 2016 and like Pearce his influence was sorely missed. His brilliant line running and prop-like metres gained whenever he played gave the Roosters forward pack a boost and they’ll need him fit and healthy to continue leading the way by example. Having been named co-captain of the Roosters in 2017 alongside Jake Friend, Cordner will be taking on an added leadership role in the team and will serve as a key influence on and off the field.
Michael Gordon- Signed on a one year deal Gordon shapes up to be a crucial new addition to the Roosters backline. While Latrell Mitchell performed admirably in his debut season at fullback, his inexperience at organizing the defence was evident. For this reason Gordon will have the task of bringing his wealth of experience to strengthen the defensive line and correct the errorss of last year. As a seasoned veteran his ability to pass on advice and mentor young players like Mitchell, Joseph Manu and Bernard Lewis will be invaluable. Gordon will also be taking over the goal-kicking duties so it is up to his boot to ensure that the Roosters go up in 6’s more often than not.
Story of 2017
A return to the Top 8 to prove last year was just an anomaly will be the success story of the season for the Roosters. Narrow losses and the absence of key personnel defined their 2016 season and their results were not indicative of the quality of the team they had. The Roosters have already got their year off to a good start by emerging victorious as the Auckland 9’s champions and will use that success as a motivator for the season ahead.
As well as returning to the Top 8, the continued development and growth of rising stars like Latrell Mitchell, Connor Watson, Joseph Manu and Ryan Matterson in 2017 will give Roosters fans a shining display of the team of the future and the players it will be built around.
Top try-scorer: Shaun Kenny-Dowall
Top point-scorer: Michael Gordon
Player of the year: Boyd Cordner