With another season of the National Rugby League rapidly approaching, we’ll have a closer examination of the Sydney Roosters for the season ahead.
The Roosters are the competition favourites after recruiting James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk and anything less than the premiership will be a failed season.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm), James Tedesco (Wests Tigers), Joshua Curran, Lachlan Lam, Dean Matterson (Parramatta Eels), Reece Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
Aidan Guerra (Newcastle Knights), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Newcastle Knights), Mitchell Pearce (Newcastle Knights), Connor Watson (Newcastle Knights), Paul Carter (released), Kane Evans (Parramatta Eels), Michael Gordon (Gold Coast Titans), Liam Knight (Canberra Raiders)
Wests Tigers (A), Bulldogs (H), Knights (H), Warriors (H), Sharks (A)
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Roosters enter the 2018 season after a disappointing finish to 2017, losing the preliminary final for the third time in the last four seasons. With their key recruits, expect the Roosters to be a force. The remaining players who’ve felt the pain of the preliminary final losses will be desperate to ensure history doesn’t repeat while the new arrivals will be eager to make their mark.
Cronk is the Roosters’ make or break signing. The last two years of his playing career will be spent there, opening a window for a premiership.
The Roosters opted to release Mitchell Pearce – who had served the club loyally for a decade – because they believed Cronk was the missing ingredient to a side unable to close out pressure games. He has a lot to live up to but there’s certainly no challenge Cronk isn’t prepared to meet.
Along with Cronk, the Roosters bought Tedesco. As the incumbent NSW fullback and one of the most dangerous ball-runners in the game, the Roosters have secured a superstar yet to hit his peak.
At the Tigers the gameplan could sometimes degenerate into ‘pass to Teddy and pray’. With the subjectively higher quality of the Roosters’ playing roster, there’ll be less pressure on him to produce a miracle.
The Roosters have a relatively comfortable draw on paper. Only nine out of their 24 games come against 2017 finals teams. Two matches against a new look Bulldogs within the first seven rounds could prove quite advantageous. The Roosters meet fellow competition heavyweights the Storm and Cowboys once each during the regular season.
The draw is only a surface look at what awaits them. The Roosters’ depth is certainly a concern. Outside of their first choice forwards, none of their reserves have any more than nine games of first grade experience, while Robinson and Mitch Cornish are the only backline depth options with any NRL game time. If an injury crisis hits, the Roosters could be in a lot of trouble.
Top Tryscorer – Latrell Mitchell.
Top Pointscorer – Latrell Mitchell.
Club Player of the Year – Luke Keary.
WHERE WILL THE ROOSTERS FINISH?