Lachlan Jeffery reviews the 2023 Season of the Sydney Roosters where they finished seventh on the ladder.
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Late Resurgence Not Enough to Rescue Season
After entering 2023 as one of the teams expected to challenge for the premiership, the Roosters’ season can be considered a failure.
At the end of round 22, they sat 14th on the ladder, needing several results to go their way to qualify for a seventh consecutive finals series. Despite having not won back-to-back games since rounds 8-9, they won their final five games, culminating in a final-round victory over arch-rivals South Sydney to snatch the final top eight spot from the Rabbitohs.
In their elimination final against the Sharks, the Roosters overcame a shocking injury toll to claim one of the club’s gutsiest victories (13-12). The following week against the Storm they came within an ace of repeating the dose, only for their hearts to be broken when Will Warbrick outleapt Fetalaiga Pauga (filling in for the injured Daniel Tupou) to catch a kick and score, stealing the match 18-13.
In some regards, the tone was set for the Roosters’ season in Round 1. Heavily favoured to beat newcomers The Dolphins at Suncorp Stadium, they were outclassed 28-18. While they claimed some good wins, including beating the Warriors twice, their season barely got going until the final month.
Individual form was a major issue for much of the season. High-profile signing Brandon Smith struggled for much of the year, as did James Tedesco, Luke Keary, Victor Radley, and Joseph Sua’ali’I, while Matthew Lodge was released mid-season. Sam Walker was dropped ahead of ANZAC Day, suffered a knee injury playing NSW Cup, and didn’t return to first grade until Round 26. Angus Crichton, Paul Momirovski, and Sitili Tupouniua all missed the majority of the season through injury, while Connor Watson failed to get on the field at all.
Things only turned around late in the season after assistant coach Jason Ryles departed, with the change to the Roosters’ style immediately apparent and players returning to form.
Despite a disappointing 2023, there was still several highlights for the Roosters. Lindsay Collins claimed the Jack Gibson Medal after a career-best season, as well as starring for Queensland and earning selection for Australia. Daniel Tupou surpassed Anthony Minichiello as the club’s leading tryscorer. Debutants Siua Wong and Sandon Smith looked comfortable in first grade, while Billy Smith finally enjoyed an injury-free run.
With Spencer Leniu and Dom Young leading the arrivals, there’s plenty of reasons for optimism at Bondi heading into 2024.
Key Player Stats
Most Try Assists: 19, Luke Keary
Most Line-breaks: 15, James Tedesco
Most Run Metres: 4,074, James Tedesco
Most Post Contact Metres: 1,113, Daniel Tupou
Most Tackles: 1,062, Nat Butcher
Most Errors: 25, Daniel Tupou