With three weeks until the 2019 NRL season starts, many of us are filled with hope that our team will do really well. Maybe they’ll even challenge for the premiership.
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The bookmakers have installed the Roosters as favourites to win the premiership again in 2019, but it’s a long season and a lot can happen between now and September.
The Roosters have lost Blake Ferguson (Eels), Ryan Matterson (Tigers) and Dylan Napa (Bulldogs) and will use Brett Morris and Angus Crichton to help plug at least two of the holes, wing and second row, which leaves the Roosters down one prop forward.
Though the team has escaped the recent bad publicity associated with Napa, his loss to the side is nonetheless significant, as the Roosters only boast four prop forwards in their ranks.
The abilities of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are well respected and Zane Tetevano played well at prop last season, but the other prop forwards are relatively unknown quantities in 22-year-old Poasa Faamausili (108 kilograms) and 22-year-old Lindsay Collins (106 kilograms), both with limited playing experienced last season.
The Roosters of course have a large number of good second-rower forwards available, including lock Siosiua Taukeiaho, who played at prop forward last season for the Roosters. Boyd Cordner and Angus Crichton will no doubt feature heavily this year, but the Roosters appear vulnerable if they were to lose a prop forward to injury for an extended period.
The Roosters also rely heavily on the work of captain Jake Friend at hooker, although and Victor Radley as backup hooker performed well last year playing mostly in the second row.
James Tedesco at fullback will be leading a formidable Roosters backline after a great year in 2018.
The Roosters play the World Club Challenge against the Wigan Warriors at DW Stadium, England, then have trials against the Panthers at Panthers Stadium and the Sea Eagles at Central Coast Stadium leading into Round 1.
So the Roosters may be a bit overprepared for their first match against the Rabbitohs at Sydney Cricket Ground, where the Burgess brothers in particular will attempt to dominate the team’s forwards.
The Roosters have a relatively tough draw in 2019, but no doubt all teams will be striving to beat the premiers. They’ll play the Rabbitohs, Broncos, Storm, Dragons, Wests Tigers, Raiders, Knights, Panthers and Bulldogs twice, and they’ll meet the Sea Eagles, Eels, Sharks, Cowboys, Titans and Warriors only once.
The Roosters’ toughest stretch comes during rounds 4 to 7, when they’ll play Brisbane at home – a club that downed the, twice in 2018 – and Cronulla away before playing Melbourne and the Dragons.
Will they be premiers again? It’s too soon to tell, but in this competition even a few percentage points fewer of enthusiasm or desire can mean the difference between winning and losing.
It is hard to tip against them making the top four, but any result is possible in the finals.