22/04/2024

The Roosters aiming to win premiership post Cooper Cronk. (Image: Sydney Roosters/X)

Another year that the Roosters would consider a disappointment, was a year with a struggling start to 2023, injuries to key players and a second half of the season that would eventually wind down in the finals.

Last year

The Roosters finished the 2023 season on an optimistic note, putting wins together in the last two months of the season and being a team with a high ceiling in the finals. They fell short in the semi-finals, losing to the Melbourne Storm from a cross-field kick from Cameron Munster to William Warbrick for the game-winning try in the last few minutes before full-time. 

Only scoring 19.6 points per game, the Roosters failed to hit their stride early. Even with the monster production before the finals, they were in a similar statistical category as the Bulldogs and Tigers in scoring. 

With the recruitment of Dominic Young and Spencer Leniu, the Roosters have improved their squad with more first-class talent in the competition, putting together a squad to compete for a premiership in the 2024 season.

Squad Changes

Ins: Spencer Leniu (Penrith Panthers), Dominic Young (Newcastle Knights)

Outs: Corey Allan (St George Dragons), Fletcher Baker (Brisbane Broncos), Nathan Brown (Manly Sea Eagles), Drew Hutchison (Canterbury Bulldogs), Paul Momirovski (Leeds Rhinos, Super League), Jaxson Paulo (Manly Sea Eagles), Ben Thomas (unsigned), Jake Turpin (Canterbury Bulldogs)

Track Watch

Questions were created with the back five, as the arrival of Dominic Young would push out a quality player the Roosters have had for some time out of the lineup.

With a long-term deal for Billy Smith signed in the off-season, we could see Daniel Tupou out of the lineup entirely.

Luke Keary has also extended his stay for one more season until the end of 2025, keeping him as the five-eighth until the club makes a change of direction.

The back-row spots were also a question mark in their entirety besides rising star Siua Wong, who impressed immediately in the second half of last season. 

Angus Crichton’s future in the NRL is up in the air at the moment.

With Tupouniua’s injury history, the back-row rotation could be mixed up throughout the season. 

Naufahu Whyte has also shown impressive stride, becoming a player that the Roosters have to watch out for, improving consistency and maturity in his role, and possibly a long-term player for the club.

Spencer Leniu locked up a starting front-row spot. However, it will be interesting to see the split rotations of the middle forwards during the games, with Terrell May and Whyte expecting minutes as well off the bench.

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What to Expect

The Roosters every year since winning back-to-back premierships has been a ‘premiership or bust’ mindset, so expect the Roosters to be doing everything they can to be in the position to hold up the trophy in October.

Their starts to the season have been rough. With the trip to Vegas, plus when they return, the Roosters could struggle with the travelling and expectation of quality of play with the different fields they are playing on, as well as new combinations and rotations with substitutions during games.

It’s a big year for;

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith improved tremendously after returning from injury and is someone fans should expect to excel more with a defined role. There were encouraging signs finishing the 2023 season. 

Smith’s physicality in the middle and his efforts on the defensive end have made him a stronger dummy half since his Dally M dummy half of the year season in 2021 in Melbourne. 

The absence of Brandon Smith saw the team struggle with other guys trying to have more responsibilities, and with Smith on the field, they seem to be a team that has better clarity on their identity with him on the field than when he is on the bench. With Sandon Smith in the rotation, the pressure on Brandon should decline with the rest of the spine who do a lot of work with the ball in their hands.

Biggest unanswered question?

Will the Roosters break the start-of-season curse and win a premiership with this stacked cast?

The struggle to win early in the season has been a trend no club wants, especially with the expectations of the club. It shouldn’t be a problem the club has at all, yet they do.

Joseph Manu, Joseph Suaalii and Jared Waerea-Hargraves will be leaving the Roosters after this season, and the club would love to create a premiership-winning year before their time is up at the end of the season.

Coach Index

Trent Robinson – Alarming

It should be alarming that since 2019, they have struggled in the finals except in 2021 where they made the semi-finals without players like Luke Keary and Lindsay Collins. As much as Trent Robinson is a good coach, a coach of his calibre should be looked at extensively. If any other club had this track record, Robinson would either be out of the door and sacked or have a lot of pressure internally from the club to have his job on the line. 

Round 1 Lineup

  1. James Tedesco 
  2. Daniel Tupou
  3. Billy Smith
  4. Joseph Manu 
  5. Joseph Suaalii
  6. Luke Keary 
  7. Sam Walker
  8. Spencer Leniu
  9. Brandon Smith
  10. Lindsay Collins
  11. Siua Wong
  12. Sitili Tupouniua
  13. Victor Radley
  14. Sandon Smith 
  15. Naufahu Whyte 
  16. Nat Butcher
  17. Terrell May

Ladder Prediction

With this team, they should be a top 4 team. However, the Roosters history suggests they will be 5th-8th on the ladder. Expect the team to be anywhere from 4th to 8th.

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