2017 was the season that got away from the Roosters. They finished second yet were bounced out of the finals by a traveling Cowboys outfit, despite a huge home ground advantage. The 29-16 result will have haunted the Roosters well into the off-season as they had every factor in their corner.
That said, the result should not take away from their otherwise brilliant 2017 season. They finished second only behind the Storm, who themselves were one of the all-time great NRL outfits.
Only the Storm and Sharks conceded less points than the Roosters, while their 500 points scores saw them place sixth in that regard. The much talked about additions to the side should help lift that standing even higher.
The Roosters won plenty of games on the field and also win the recruitment battles off it, as will be discussed below.
Recruitment Grading: A
The tri-colours landed the two biggest signings of the NRL off-season in bringing James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk to the club. NRL fans will need no introduction to the rep auto-selections and will need no convincing of the abilities they bring to the club. Cooper Cronk has almost forgotten how to lose after taking the Storm, QLD and Australian rep sides to glory in the past 12 months. He is a wonderful player and a calm head on and off the field. Tedesco is one of the game’s best fullbacks and could very well ascend to the mantle of THE best in a much stronger Roosters outfit. Scary.
Star Player: Cooper Cronk
The Roosters have taken a monster punt in doing so but they’ve managed to add one of the game’s top two halves to their roster. They’ve armed him with weaponry that includes Tedesco, Mitchell, Ferguson, Tupou and Cordner. He’ll be fed by Jake Friend, while being lead and protected by JWH and Dylan Napa. The Roosters set up is very similar to the Storm side that Cronk lead to glory on multiple occasions. Cronk’s talent should lift those around him while his experience will help mentor the younger players in the squad. He’s arguably the signing of the season and will be expected to lead the Roosters to similar success that the Storm enjoyed during his tenure at the club.
Strength: Best side in the competition
From 1 through 17 this Roosters side is elite. The Cowboys may give them a run for their money but across the park THIS is the best side in the competition, at least on paper. They’ve added Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco to an already all-star team that managed to finish second in last season’s regular rounds. That’s a scary prospect. Add to that the fact that Latrell Mitchell has another pre-season under his belt and is ready to tear the competition apart. A lot will depend on how Tedesco and Cronk settle in but given their pedigree I can’t see that being even the slightest of problems.
This Roosters side MUST win a Premiership in the next two seasons. The decision to move club legend Mitchell Pearce on in order to bring Cooper Cronk in makes that a cold, hard reality. If they don’t lift the trophy at least once before Cronk retires, then this decision will be put under a microscope by fans like no other decision before it. It’s a huge gamble and it must pay off. Every other NRL side will be fired up to play the Roosters given the strength of their side. Add to that the fact that every non-Rooster fan wants to see them fail for laughs and you have yourself a genuine pressure cooker environment. There will be pressure on every member of Trent Robinson’s squad after the Roosters opened a ridiculously short priced premiership favourite.
Disaster aside, anything less than a Minor Premiership will probably be seen as a let down. This side SHOULD go all the way, but rugby league is a funny game.
Tedesco and Cronk are obviously monster ins, especially considering this side finished second only to one of the all time great Storm sides across 26 NRL competition rounds in 2017.
Teams will have done their home work across the off-season looking for ways to beat this side so the likes of Manu, Mitchell and Ferguson should prepare for a lot of traffic. The Roosters outside backs have been caught out of position in years gone by so expect an early and often onslaught from opposition teams.
If Robinson can fix up that slight weakness, the Roosters may very well be close to unstoppable in 2018.
They’ll have to overcome a brilliant Cowboys side, as well as the 2017 Premiers the Storm (albeit without Cronk) while the likes of Penrith, the Sharks and the Eels can’t be discounted, but on paper, the Roosters stand above the rest as clear premiership favourites.