SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Luke Keary of the Roosters looks on before the round 16 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Sydney Roosters at Bankwest Stadium on July 05, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Sydney Roosters spent most of last year scrambling to name a team, but as long as luck doesn't repeat itself over again, 2022 is promising to be an excellent year for Trent Robinson and the men from Bondi.

Never before have we seen the injury chaos which gripped the tri-colours during the 2021 season.

And yet, they somehow managed to finish fifth. Under a lesser coach, at a club with lesser will, or without players like James Tedesco and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to stand up, any other club would have likely missed the finals and been fighting to avoid a spot in the bottom four.

In fact, you could suggest the only other club with the will to do what the Roosters did last year would be the Storm.

Their second-week finals exit to the Manly Sea Eagles might have been "disappointing" but realistically, when star Luke Keary went down with an ACL injury early in the season, any Roosters fan would have bitten your hand off if you offered them that finish.

SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES - MARCH 05: Roosters coach Trent Robinson watches on during a Sydney Roosters NRL training session at Kippax Lake on March 5, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Now they come into 2022 with Robinson still at the helm of his ship and a group of youngsters suddenly having a mountain of experience under the belt that they otherwise wouldn't have.

Without too many enormous exits, and in fact, one of the better pre-season signings in Paul Momirovski, the Roosters are a club who look primed for an enormous 2022.

That said though, there are still critical questions which need answering surrounding returning stars and those who had career-best years last year, as to whether that is a level of form that can be maintained.

There is also undoubtedly a question around a key member of their spine, not just due to on-field form, but also thanks to the Roosters recruitment decisions which have already been made for 2023.

Here are the burning questions confronting the Roosters for 2022.

Can Luke Keary recover from injury properly?
One of the biggest injury problems the Roosters faced in the 2021 season was the injury to key man Luke Keary.

His ACL problem ruled him out of the entire season when, at one point, he was a favourite to partner Nathan Cleary in the Origin arena - although it's unclear if it would have stayed that way given the form of the Penrith Panthers and ability to have a club partnership for the Blues with Jarome Luai partnering Cleary.

He is now battling new problems in the pre-season.

NRL Rd 3 - Rabbitohs v Roosters
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: Luke Keary of the Roosters is helped off the field after a leg injury during the round three NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters at Stadium Australia on March 26, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

While it's hard to argue Keary is the glue that held it all together like was once thought, there is still no doubting how important he is at the Roosters.

At times last year - and it was perfectly understandable - the Roosters attack was clunky at best and poor in the general sense of things. Lots of dropped ball (more on this later) and poor attacking structure.

Drew Hutchison was great, as was Lachlan Lam, while Sam Walker is still adjusting to first-grade, but the cool, calm head of one of the game's best generals will be a welcome return for Robinson and his team.

Will James Tedesco be at his best again?
James Tedesco was a star in 2021.

There is no other way of saying it. He may not have got the credits and applause that Tom Trbojevic, Nathan Cleary and Cody Walker got, but in any other “normal” season, he was probably the red-hot favourite for the Dally M Medal.

He didn’t do it single-handidly, but at times, it sure felt like it as he dragged in the injury-depleted tri-colours to a fifth-place finish. It may not have come to much during the finals, but no team with that many injuries should have been anywhere near the finals. The Roosters were.

JAMES TEDESCO
Fullback
Roosters
2021 SEASON AVG
0.4
Tries
1
Try Assists
7
Tackle Breaks

Tedesco has long been one of the best players in the game, and while it's hard to consider him "the best" anymore, he may well still be the most important on the back of what he was able to do in 2021.

The New South Wales captain - and potential Australian World Cup captain - needs to be at his best if the Roosters are going to go from top four competitors to a premiership push - and they have all the tools do it.

Can Jared Waerea-Hargreaves continue to lead the pack?
Waerea-Hargreaves might be a year older, but he is slowing no signs of slowing down. Of course, other players deserve praise when it comes to the Roosters pack, including the now-departed Isaac Liu, but none were better than Waerea-Hargreaves.

He was inspirational for his club on a weekly basis, and it was no surprise when Robinson emphatically shut down any talk of him potentially leaving the club.

One moment stands out, when, in a late-season game against the Dragons, Waerea-Hargreaves appeared to have been bent over on his legs and was in all sorts of pain. That was until he got up a minute later and continued playing.

It was performances like that which puts him in the discussion among the best forward pack leaders in the game, and the Roosters, particularly with the loss of Liu and still plenty of inexperience in the middle, will need the New Zealand international to lead from the front once again in 2022.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 06: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves of the Roosters celebrates winning the 2019 NRL Grand Final match between the Canberra Raiders and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

How do the Roosters fix their errors and discipline?
This is a big question, because for years, the Roosters have been sloppy on both the errors and discipline front.

There are exceptions to the rule, but the Roosters often are among the most penalised teams, and among the sloppiest with the football.

They are good enough to be near the top despite that, but to go to the next level and win their first premiership since the retirement of Cooper Cronk, they'll need to be better.

To challenge the Storm and Panthers, discipline is everything.

While 2021 has its own excuses, the Roosters conceded more penalties than any other team, and made the second-most errors. That simply must improve in 2022.

Is Sam Verrills the man at number nine?
The case of Verrills is intriguing. Earmarked as the long-term option to take over from Jake Friend, it has lasted only a handful of months with the club now signing Brandon Smith to a new long-term deal from 2023.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 31: Sam Verrills of the Roosters celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round 24 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Penrith Panthers at Sydney Cricket Ground on August 31, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Verrills is still on contract until after Smith's arrival, creating an intriguing dynamic. Verrils likely won't be interested in playing from the bench, which puts Robinson under pressure to fit both players into his team.

Unless, of course, he has decided that Verrills is no longer the man at number nine for the tri-colours.

That in itself would mean 2022 plays out in a different way, with Verrills still likely to start for the duration of this year, although Connor Watson's arrival means Victor Radley could be asked to play nine.

The level of uncertainty around the hooking position won't bode well for the Roosters, and it's a question they need to answer sooner rather than later.