Four big decisions for new Roosters coach
How will Braith Anasta fit in at the Tigers? (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)
Rookie NRL Roosters coach Trent Robinson has some big decisions to make that will not only re-engineer his famous club, but shape his own future.
At 35, ‘Robbo’ is the youngest head coach in the NRL.
While he is very much his own man with clear views on how footy should be played, it is unknown if he has been given some ‘non-negotiable’ instructions from his high profile board.
These ‘instructions’ appeared to be part of predecessor Brian Smith’s brief.
Many fans thought former skipper Braith Anasta and club legend Anthony Minichiello played every week with a ‘never to be sacked’ sign on their foreheads.
One of the major decisions for new coach Robinson is to name a new captain.
When it was clear the Roosters would not make the semis last season, Smith considered replacing Anasta as skipper with the view to 2013, but it never happened, and it was the coach who got the shoulder tap.
So let’s discuss the Roosters’ big decisions:
1. Naming a new captain
The pre-requisites in naming a captain should be that he is an automatic selection every week, is respected by his players, and ideally will play for 80 minutes. This presents a problem as the only player that meets that criteria is Mitchell Pearce and there are doubts about his ability to lead.
Mitchell Aubusson and Aidan Guerra are highly respected but they may not play 80 minutes every week. The obvious contender is ‘Mini’, which leads us to the next big decision.
2. What to do with Mini?
It is hard not to like Anthony Minichiello, but his stats as a first grade fullback are not first grade standard these days and it would be a tragedy if young gun Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is not the new number 1. Providing Mini is in the coach’s plans, the only alternative is to play him at right wing. This would appease his mates on the board and also solve the captaincy problem, but not necessarily strengthen that position. The fullback position has emerged in recent years as just as important as halfback and the Roosters need the tackle-breaking skills of Tuivasa-Sheck.
3. Finding the go-to man
The Roosters still lack someone to run the team and/or a ‘go-to’ man. They really have never been able to replace Brad Fittler as someone who can make the big calls when required.
Pearce is simply not a good enough organiser to carry all of that responsibility alone and new recruit from the Warriors, James Maloney, is an out and out runner with poor kicking and organising skills. The immensely talented Brad Takairangi could be an option.
4. Where to play Sonny Bill
Sonny Bill Williams is the most talented forward I have seen play NRL but maybe it will suit his new team best if he plays five-eighth as it would allow him to be on the field for 80 minutes and play on both sides of the ruck.
It could be argued that he could do this by playing lock but he would have to make 40 plus tackles, which seems dumb when you have an attacking Rolls Royce.
If Robbo can get these four decisions correct then the Roosters will not only make the semis but be a genuine contender. He has so much upside with the enormous young talent available and only a slight improvement in discipline is required for the Roosters to improve their possession percentages markedly.