So, it’s official.
Blake Ferguson is heading west to the Blue and Gold for 2019. But whilst the metre-eating winger is a massive coup for Parramatta, he leaves behind a large hole in the Eastern Suburbs side as they look to take the 2019 Telstra Premiership in what’ll likely be veteran Cooper Cronk’s final season.
With 10 tries in 16 appearances this season, partnered with two try assists, his impact as a try scorer could be missed in Bondi. That’s not even considering the fact that he has more metres than anyone else in the NRL this season.
It is likely that the Roosters will initially look to stick to recent club tradition and look to the market for a replacement for Ferguson. Whilst former centre Kane Linnett is one of the few big-name outside men still without a club for 2019, he will be 30 by the time he lines up for his new club, which many will argue is passed the used-by date for a top-of-the-line centre.
Whilst 27-year-old Justin O’Neill still has some good years left in him, he’s also on the outer in North Queensland, with an aura of uncertainty surrounding his future in Townsville.
The 2015 premiership-winning centre has four caps for Queensland, and two for Australia, but is well past the form that earned him both of those jerseys. However, a change of scenery and potential mentorship of young gun Joseph Manu could bring back that red-hot quality that he still has in his locker.
Ken Sio is a relatively likely replacement for the outgoing Ferguson. Sio is unlikely to be offered a new deal at Hunter Stadium with Jesse Ramien and Edrick Lee inbound to complete what could be a stellar backline in Newcastle next season.
He’ll be looking for regular first-grade football in 2019, and a run of good form towards the close of the 2018 regular season could be enough to get Nick Politis making some phone calls. The only worry could be a lack of NRL experience, and lack of ability to play at the highest stage due to the little experience he has.
However, the signing which Roosters fans will be after is young Robert Jennings. The youngest of the Jennings clan, his older brother became a cult hero at Bondi during his three-year spell at the Roosters with his explosive speed, and his famous finish in the 2013 Grand Final.
The Roosters could be looking to add a second Rabbitoh to their 2019 roster, and add another chapter to Rusty’s book of feuds. Jennings’ form this season speaks for itself, and has helped the Bunnies to their top spot on the ladder.
His four-try hall against Parramatta in Round 15 showed his class, and he could be just the line finder that the Roosters need to fill the gap left by Ferguson. The Roosters would be held in high regard in the Jennings household, with Michael winning his sole premiership at the club.
The Roosters are looking increasingly likely to make a move for older brother Michael to make his move back to Bondi too.
With backup backline player Reece Robinson coming off contract, and falling well out of favour at the Roosters, a potential homecoming for Michael would not only warm the hearts of the Eastern Suburbs faithful, but could potentially give Robert Jennings another reason to follow Angus Crichton to their crosstown rivals.
Robert could establish himself as one of the best wingers in the comp outside of the offloading Joey Manu, who has been integral to Ferguson’s try-scoring tally this season.
Whilst other options such as Jaymane Isaako and Brenko Lee are feasible due to the salary cap space that the departure of Ferguson has left open, Isaako has already voiced his loyalty to the Brisbane club, and Brenko Lee is an important part of a Titans setup that they’ll be offering big money to keep together at Cbus Super Stadium.
So, who else could you potentially see at the Roosters come next season? Let me know in the comments below? Should they spend the money on a Fergo replacement, or perhaps put their trust in Matt Ikuvalu and move for another forward to boost what’ll already be an all-star forward pack.
With names such as Tevita Pangi-Junior, Peni Terepo and potentially Marty Taupau on the market, there are options open for the ‘Salary Cap Sombrero’ Sydney Roosters, and fans have the right to be getting excited.
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