Predicted Finish: 9th
Actual Finish: 2nd
Best Performer: Luke Keary
Although I stand firm that Paul Vaughan was the signing of the season, Luke Keary could very well be the next best. He had a wow of a season, and for mine was the Roosters best in 2017. His stats are impressive: seven tries, 11 line breaks and 14 try assists, and he added a different direction to the tri-colours attack. He showed maturity beyond his years and helped control his Roosters outfit. I’m surprised he didn’t score more tries to be honest, as I seem to remember him popping up at the end of breaks almost every week. Incredible season. I cannot believe Souths let him go.
Season Highlight: 16-14 win over the Sharks
The Roosters has better wins and far more impressive displays in 2017 than their August 26 victory over the Sharks, but the significance of this was was massive. Not only was it there first win over the Shire-based club in what seems like a decade, but it sent them firmly into the top two. The win also ended the Sharks top four hopes, in front of a big black, white and blue crowd no less. A Michael Gordon penalty goal right on full time saw the twelve man Roosters edge out the then defending premiers. The Sharks had a chance to win it and drag the Roosters into a real top four battle, but the Roosters scrambled, forced an error, made metres and drew the match-winning penalty. It isn’t highlight feature stuff, but it was super important in the makeup of the season.
Best Signing: James Tedesco
The Roosters made two game-changing, marquee signings for 2018, but in James Tedesco, I think they’ve found the missing piece of the premiership puzzle. Cronk for Pearce looks a straight swap, but Tedesco is primed to become the game’s elite number one in Bondi. The only criticism of his game at the Tigers was he tried to do too much. That should not be a problem at the Roosters as he’s surrounded by a far superior supporting cast. Look for him to still run up massive numbers in terms of metres and tackle busts, but also look for him to inject himself more creatively rather than running the ball twice a set.
Bounce back: The Roosters has one bad season in among a series of successes in 2016, but it now seems like a distant memory. Some clubs enjoy success, hit a snag and then crumble, but the Roosters managed to get their house in order quickly and return to the top two in just 12 months. The credit has to go to Trent Robinson who looked under huge pressure at the start of 2017. Another final-less season would have seen his tenure at the club come to an end. Instead, they enter 2018 as short-priced premiership favourites. What a turn around in such a short space of time.
Angus signs already: The 2018 season hasn’t yet kicked off and already fans of the Roosters are celebrating a marquee signing for 2019 and beyond. Souths gun Angus Crichton did the unthinkable and signed for his club’s bitter rivals a year a full year in advance. Souths fans are rightfully dirty, Roosters fans are literally crowing. It’s a huge plus to know such a talent is coming. It’ll also add interest to Souths games as they tune in to see their shiny, new asset running around. His impending arrival has to be a huge selling point for future recruitment also.
Brilliant cap management: For all the fun I have with this on social media, is there a better club in the NRL at managing the salary cap? Make all the jokes you want but the Roosters are never dragged into any salary cap scandals despite having arguably the best playing roster in the game. They host an all rep side (almost) yet have a reported $1 million spare for 2018? That sounds like an absolute laugh considering the talent on show but all the stats back it up. To think they could theoretically still pick up any player in the NRL and add them to their 2018 roster is scary. SCARY!!!
Season Grading: A
The Roosters has an absolute shocker in 2016 and to be honest, although they were sure to improve, I just didn’t see the Roosters finishing second. Really, we should have seen it coming. There is just too much talent in this Roosters side for them not to return to finals footy.
The key was getting their house in order off the field. 2016 was derailed by a series of off-field incidents, something the Bondi club avoided this time around. On field they produced some absolute magic.
I’d say the Roosters would be very disappointed to drop out of the finals in straight sets, but considering what they achieved across the regular season, nothing other than an A grading would suffice.
The way in which 2017 ended may want to fade from memory but I have a feeling Roosters fans will be too busy celebrating in the near future to worry too much.