The Newsroom previews each team for the 2015 National Rugby League season. Today, the Sydney Roosters.
The Sydney roosters are looking to avenge their 2014 preliminary finals defeat to arch rivals the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Although they won the minor premiership last season, the boys from Bondi were unable to make the finals.
Key changes have been made in this year’s line-up after the retirement of captain Anthony Minichello and defection of star Sonny Bill Williams to Rugby Union. Coach Trent Robinson will be relying on young gun Roger Tuivasa-Sheck as fullback to create a strong offensive line. The Roosters are expected to struggle in the early rounds as they adapt to the loss of Minichello, but once they find their rhythm they could become strong title contenders by September.
Recruits Lagi Setu and Martin Kennedy will bolster the forward pack but most attention will be focused on Blake Ferguson. Ferguson spent 18 months out of the game after a falling out with the Canberra Raiders. Roosters staff believe the promising back has turned a corner, but are taking a risk with his signing.
In: Blake Ferguson, Martin Kennedy (Brisbane Broncos), Willie Manu (St Helens RFLC), Matt McIlwrick (Canberra Raiders), Abraham Papalii (New Zealand Warriors), Lagi Setu (Canberra Raiders), Nathan Stapleton (Cronulla Sharks)
Out: Remi Casty (Catalan Dragons), Saulala Houma (Cronulla Sharks), Kurt Kara, Heath L’Estrange (St George Illawarra Dragons), Rhyse Martin, Anthony Minichello (Retired), Tautau Moga (North Queensland Cowboys), Daniel Mortimer (Gold Coast Titans), Curtis Naughton (Hull FC), Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Canberra Raiders), Jonathon Reuben, Sonny Bill Williams (Rugby Union)
Strengths: The forward pack will be hard to penetrate with Australian representative Boyd Cordner and Queensland Maroon Aiden Guerra combining in the scrum – a daunting sight for any opponent. The back-line also has quite a bit of power with new recruit Blake Ferguson keen to repay the faith the Roosters staff have placed in him.
Weaknesses: An injury cloud hangs over hooker Jake Friend. With no obvious replacement on the team, the Roosters could be in trouble. This will cause some instability in the line-up until the hooker is fully fit.
Key player: Mitchell Pearce. The newly appointed skipper has some big shoes to fill. After playing a personal best season last year, his leadership skills remain to be seen, however the many seasoned players in the line-up make the team one of the most formidable in the competition.
Coach: With a roster of this callibre, coach Trent Robinson has his work cut out for him. However, the former premiership winning coach seems to have struck a winning formula with the chooks. Most interesting will be how co-captains Jake Friend and Mitchell Pearce work together in the leadership roles on Robinson’s appointment. The two have been known for recent off-field disagreements.
Prediction: 4th. – Chris Matthews-Darby
Top photo from Naparazzi’s Flickr photostream.