Sydney Roosters Stats
2013 Record: 18 wins from 24 premiership games (Premiers)
5-year record: 55 wins from 120 premiership games (46% win record)
Arrivals: Remi Casty, Jackson Hastings, Jonathon Reuben, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Heath L’Estrange, Curtis Naughton, Kem Seru
Departures: Josh Ailaomai, Martin Kennedy, Adam Henry, Henare Wells, Jack Bosden, John Asiata, Tinirau Arona, Michael Oldfield, Luke O’Donnell
Coach: Trent Robinson
Fixtures to start and end 2014
First five fixtures: Rabbitohs (A), Eels (H), Broncos (A), Sea Eagles (H), Bulldogs (H)
Final five fixtures: Titans (H), Tigers (A), Warriors (A), Storm (H), Rabbitohs (H)
In winning their first NRL premiership since 2002, the Roosters of 2013 wowed many with their silky skills and tough defence, not seen at the club since the early 2000’s when they made four Grand Finals in five years. People are quick to point to Sonny Bill Williams as the architect but I think it was a team effort and to point to one player disrespects all of his team mates. Michael Jennings recaptured his best form in his first season at the Roosters, while James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce formed a lethal combination in the halves, but frustratingly for Blues fans were unable to repeat this at Origin level.
Captain Anthony Minichiello had another great year and the Roosters have a real superstar in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. The 2014 model looks very similar with arguably the best back line in the NRL and a tough and uncompromising forward pack led by Kiwi hard man Jarred Warea-Hargreaves, who occasionally can cross the line and has had a few trips to the judiciary. I’m surprised Daniel Mortimer stayed at the club as he is restricted to coming off the bench at the Roosters but he seems happy to play second fiddle to Jake Friend who has put his off-field troubles behind him and is one of the best hookers going around.
Perhaps the only worry for coach Trent Robinson is that other clubs have had all off-season to work out how to topple his club, whose roster has had very little change and this means that teams will know what is coming. One man they did sign during the off-season is unwanted Dragon Kem Seru. He is a giant of a man and graduated to NSW Cup in 2013. He seemed set for a big year at the club but was surprisingly let go.
Complacency could also be an issue for the players; after delivering a premiership they will need to be motivated for the full season, and the fact that no team has gone back to back since the star-studded Broncos of 92-93 suggests that all teams struggle with it. I really can’t find many weaknesses at the Roosters although injuries, suspensions and representative duties will play their part of course. I don’t know that they have a lot of depth outside their top seventeen and it will be interesting to see how they fare if they get struck down with injuries. They also have discipline issues and were one of the most penalised teams in 2013.
Given that in 2014 every team will be after them, they really need to clean up this area, and Friend and Warea-Hargreaves in particular need to stop giving away silly penalties. Apart from these issues it’s hard to fault the Roosters 2014 team which will once again be very difficult to come up against.