2010 Position: 6th (14 wins, 10 losses)
Gains: Justin Carney (Canberra Raiders), Anthony Watts (North Queensland Cowboys), Lama Tasi (Manly Sea Eagles), Mark Riddell (Wigan Warriors, ESL)
Losses: Lopini Paea (Catalans Dragons, ESL), Nick Kouparitsas (Harlequins, ESL), Ben Jones (North Queensland Cowboys), Brad Murray (Parramatta Eels), Jacob Miller (Wests Tigers)
In 2009, the Roosters were fighting it out for scraps at the bottom of the Rugby League food chain. In 2010, they redeemed themselves, making it all the way to the Grand Final only to collide with an immovable object. In 2011, the tale of redemption continues on and the boys from Bondi will be on the cusp of going one better.
The Roosters’ story of redemption is not limited to just the club itself. Todd Carney’s return to the NRL was one of the highlights of the season. His energy on the field was pivotal to the club’s success and in the season ahead, the fans will look to him again to produce his magic. Unfortunately, the past that was once thought to be behind him has reared it’s head once again. For the Roosters, it is critical that they do whatever it takes to nurture the superstar playmaker and steer him from any future incidents.
In addition to Carney, the Roosters can boast a squad with talent across the board. Mitchell Pearce will partner Carney in the halves and the soon to be NSW State of Origin combination will look to develop into a more lethal pairing this season. At the back, Anthony Minichiello is bounding back into his old ways after a horror run with injuries. To complete the spine, Jake Friend is a cunning young hooker who will undoubtedly terrorise teams around the ruck this year.
With a formidable spine leading around weapons such as Kenny-Dowall and Aubusson, the biggest concern for coach Brian Smith isn’t the playing talent on offer but the consistency of their performances. If the club is to enjoy Premiership success, this is the part of the equation that needs to be solved. Despite being able to topple teams from anywhere on the park, on too many occasions opponents were allowed back into the contest by the Roosters.
If the Roosters can play the full 80 minutes each week and not let their mind slip, they will be far above many sides in the competition and can bank on finishing in the top tier.
What went right in 2010: After a horrid year prior, the Roosters managed to make a Grand Final and despite not doing the victory lap at the end of the 80 minutes, their appearance in that match alone was a monumental achievement. At the heart of it all was Todd Carney, Mitchell Pearce and Braith Anasta. The Carney-Pearce combination set the league alight and will do so again this season. Anasta grew as a player and a leader. The experience of this season combined with his steely resolve should give the club the mettle they require on and off the paddock. In the back line, Shaun Kenny-Dowall went from an inconsistent centre to attacking weapon. His rise in 2010, has him rated as one of the most lethal outside backs in the league. In the forwards, Mitchell Aubusson can no longer be considered a quiet achiever. His strength in defence and destructive runs in attack will have other clubs sitting up and taking notice.
What went wrong in 2010: The Grand Final loss is the obvious point to make, but the biggest issues for the Roosters stems from something much deeper. That issue is consistency and discipline. These were the two biggest let downs for the club in 2010. The Roosters suffered the most penalties in the competition, so it is without a doubt that this is an area they must fix up if they wish to dominate in the coming season.
Final say for 2011: The Roosters in 2011 will be a force to be reckoned with. On field discipline is critical and with scandal magnets Carney and Friend in the side, off field discipline is just as important. It remains to be seen whether the new refereeing regime will be lighter on the Roosters and their errant ways. Either way, that isn’t a chance the club should take and fixing their discipline is imperative to any possible success. From there it is up to veteran coach Brian Smith to get the best out of what is an outstanding squad, a squad that has suffered no significant losses from the season prior. If their key players live up to their expectations, this could just be the year Brian Smith breaks his drought.