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  • 06:55:37 AEST
  • Sunday, 16 December 2018
Roosters Cooper Cronk 090318

Sydney Roosters NRL 2018 season preview


New kids on the block hold the key to success

Key Ins: James Tedesco (West Tigers ), Cooper Cronk (Storm), Reece Robinson (NSW Waratahs)

Key Losses: Mitchell Pearce (Knights), Aidan Guerra (Knights), Connor Watson (Knights), Michael Gordon (Titans)

 

Overview

After a disastrous 2016 which saw them slump to 15th on the ladder, the Roosters found their crow again last season as they won nine of their ten home games to finish in 2nd on the ladder behind the Storm. They headed into the preliminary final against the Cowboys as hot favourites, however an error-filled performance cost the side from Bondi a shot at the holy grail. Carelessness proved to be the ultimate downfall for the Roosters last year as they made more errors (303) than any other side in the competition

Things will be different this year however, with some new faces in the dressing room. Known as one of the glamour clubs of the NRL, the Roosters have become accustomed to dealing with the pressure and scrutiny that comes with high profile signings. Coach Trent Robinson will expect big things from star recruits James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk, arguably the best players in the competition in their respective positions. 

Cronk replaces club stalwart Mitchell Pearce, and as good as Pearce has been for the Roosters, he is no Cooper Cronk. Tedesco takes the reins from Michael Gordon and will bring another dimension to the Roosters’ attack having already represented NSW and with a Kangaroos jersey seemingly inevitable.

Michael Gordon was exceptional last season in both attack and defence, however his ability to put the ball over the black dot will be where the Roosters will miss him most. Gordon notched up a 78% conversion rate last season and his likely replacement, Latrell Mitchell, doesn’t have the ability to reach this standard. This may bite the Roosters in tight games this season.

The boys from Bondi have a dream draw to start the year. They play their first nine rounds in Sydney and don’t meet a rival from last year’s top four until round 16, where they will go head-to-head with last year’s premiers Melbourne Storm at Allianz. This already shapes as one of the most highly anticipated games of the season as it will see Cronk aim up against his old team mates for the first time.

 

Player to watch: James Tedesco is the most highly feared fullback in the game. His electric speed and ball running ability will give the Roosters an X-factor they’ve been lacking since losing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to the Warriors at the end of 2015. Expect Tedesco to hang off Cronk’s hip all season and punch through opposition defensive lines for fun.  

Key player: Cooper Cronk has dominated for many years at the highest level in rugby league. His preparation and attitude towards the game is unrivalled and it’s hard to see his move not having a positive impact on the Roosters’ dressing room. The Kangaroos halfback will assume a leadership position and direct the team around the park alongside hooker and captain Jake Friend, as well as promising five eighth Luke Keary. Cronk faces the new challenge of playing in a side without Cameron Smith, however if he can adjust to life in Sydney’s east, then his signing is sure to bring success for the tri-colours.

 

Outside backs rating: 8/10

Winger Blake Ferguson has represented both NSW and the Kangaroos and he's a world class player but capable of producing world class brain explosions. A level-headed Ferguson will go a long way to helping the Roosters achieve premiership success in 2018. Playing alongside Ferguson is the explosive Joseph Manu, who has struggled to bring his impressive under 20's form into first grade. He possesses plenty of skill and is set for a break-out year. Centre Latrell Mitchell is pushing for a NSW origin jersey and has proven he’s as good as any centre in competition when his mind is on the game, whilst Daniel Tupou terrorises opposition wingers under the highball and will relish Cronk’s ability to place the ball on a dime.

Forward Pack rating: 7/10

A representative front row in Dylan Nappa (QLD) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (NZ) can intimidate the toughest of forward packs. Both are exceptionally strong defenders and will lead from the front to lay a solid platform for their backs. NSW Origin captain Boyd Cordner runs some of the best angles in the game off the left edge, scoring plenty of tries close to the line and he is equally as effective in defence. Joining Cordner in the back row is workhorse Mitchell Aubusson and Sio Siua Taukeiaho, who is a strong ball runner and solid in defence. Expect his minutes to fluctuate as he supports Mitchell with goal kicking duties.

Spine rating: 9/10      

James Tedesco (Fullback), Luke Keary (Five Eighth), Cooper Cronk (Halfback) and Jake Friend (Hooker) makes for one of the best spines in the competition. Friend works tirelessly in defence, making more tackles than any other Rooster last year (996). That’s 245 more than his nearest rival Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who made 751. It’s this type of work ethic that has him in line to step into Cameron Smith’s Maroons number nine jersey when it becomes vacant, and his game will only improve off the back of playing alongside Cronk.

 

               

Bookies' Verdict

Our Verdict

Top 8

$1.15

Genuine Premiership contenders.

Premiership

$5.50

$4

2018 Prediction

1st

2nd

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