The Sydney Roosters side has been a dominant force in recent history having played in seven of the last eight finals series, culminating in three grand final wins.
However, with Kyle Flanagan already departing and established stars Jake Friend, Daniel Tupou, Angus Crichton, Isaac Liu and Billy Smith all uncontracted at the end of this season there may be a changing of the guard for this ever-successful team.
What to expect
Expect the Roosters to be amongst the competition’s top teams yet again.
The club’s success over recent years has them poised for yet another assault at the premiership.
Kyle Flanagan’s departure also signals a change in the halves with heavy competition expected throughout the season.
Coach Trent Robinson has already signalled that Luke Keary will move into the number seven jersey while Lachlan Lam will start round one at five-eighth, but coach Robinson hasn’t ruled out a change later in the season.
“We’ve got four halves that are really pushing hard and training well. Luke Keary and Lachie Lam are our halves to start the season,” Robinson told Fox Sports.
“Then we’ve got Drew Hutchison and Sam Walker sort of saying ‘I’m here and I’m ready’ as well. You always need a group of them. It’s like any sport, there has to be a group of players that are pushing hard, but we know where we’re going.”
Former New Zealand Warrior Adam Keighran is also expected to be in the mix during the season.
The Roosters can also expect the return of Victor Radley and Sam Verrills after ruptured ACLs sidelined the pair last season.
Daniel Tupou is fit and firing after an injury interrupted 2020, but co-captain Boyd Cordner is not expected to return until halfway through the season as the club takes a cautious approach considering his concussion history.
Players to watch
While the make up in the halves has been decided for round one, expect 18-year-old Sam Walker to see some minutes throughout the year and showcase why he will be a long-term Rooster.
Walker, the son of former NRL player Ben Walker has had an 18-month layoff from playing to focus on his training and ensure he is ready for the step up into the first-grade squad.
“I think last year, even though I didn’t play any footy I think I had my best year of training,” Walker told NRL.com.
“I learned so much from training and not being out on the field, I got a lot of skills done at training that I needed to work on.”
Key match ups
With double up games against some of the competition’s better teams in the Storm, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Eels and Raiders, the Roosters will be tested but well and truly earn their spot in the finals with victories against these sides.