I’m not saying they’re cheating the salary cap, the Roosters. Oh hell no.
To quote Augustus Gould: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
No to the power of 559.
No, for mine, the Roosters are the very best team in the National Rugby League, and there’s no evidence – nor has there ever been – that they have come by this star-studded super-team by any means other than completely above-board methods and man management.
But my, they’re definitely getting more bang for their buck than everyone else.
And everyone else must wonder: how do they do that?
How do they get all these people together under the one roof?
They spot a few in the bush, recruit a few young.
But they also get ’em ready-made and cherry ripe.
James Tedesco was already the best fullback in the land, Luke Keary and Cooper Cronk two of the best halves.
Angus Crichton made a name at Souths. Brett Morris already had one.
Look at the blokes who didn’t play against Souths last night: Morris, Keary, Mitch Aubusson, Jake Friend, Siosiua Taukeiaho.
They’d be the Titans’ five best players. They’d be stars in any team.
Aubusson was replaced by Crichton, Morris by a 19-year-old called Billy Smith.
Without Friend, the kid Sam Verrills comes in, goes so well they debate Friend’s spot.
Friend is co-captain of the club.
Not just the stars, the Roosters supporting act are hard-boned belters.
I like the No.19 from last night, Sitili Tupouniua. Great, big, long, rangy. A fit unit.
I like Nat Butcher. I like Zane Tetevano. I like Joseph Manu.
Daniel Tupou! The wing man played for NSW and is under the radar because of everyone else. If he was at the Titans they’d have a statue of him on Cavill Avenue.
And this is before you mention half a dozen of the best players in their position in the competition, namely Keary, Cronk, Tedesco, Boyd Cordner, Latrell Mitchell and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
How about those people? Pretty solid core group. Throw in Friend – or even don’t – and it’s the game’s best spine.
It’s the game’s best back line. The forward pack lives to bash, and to wrestle, and to suffocate their opponents with the dark arts of judo and jujitsu, and who knows what else.
What riches they possess. Friend has only played five games in 2019, in Rounds 1, 3, 7, 17 and 18. They’ve barely missed a beat, because of Victor Radley.
How about Victor Radley? Gillmeister-esque belter with enough nous to play hooker. He’s not a hooker, but he was a bloody good hooker while he was.
But now Vic’s back to inflicting at lock forward, and he’s enough of a footballer to be a link man between halves and centre forwards.
Tough critter, Vic.
There’s a certain look to a Roosters player. A hardness. Tetevano is, as Ivan Drago said of Rocky Balboa, a piece of iron.
Storm players have this same look. Kenny Bromwich and Jahrome Hughes. The captain and referee whisperer, Cam Smith, they joke has an accountant’s body. But he’s hard, Smith. No fat on him, just wiry, hard little muscles.
Surfers have these muscles. They don’t look much but they’re wiry strong.
The Roosters are strong. And look like rock stars. The old gag about Tarzan and Jane? It’s Tarzan and Tarzan.
And they defend like bombers. They bomb in. They attack in defence. They love it, rushing up, body on body, belting blokes. They reckon defence is an attitude. Some blokes’ attitude is why keep a dog and wee on tyres yourself?
The Roosters’ attitude is none shall pass. And how much fun is it belting these Bunnies!
And for all the hot-footed and hard-boned attack of the Roosters from 1-17, it’s their stopping power that should carry them to a second consecutive premiership.
Because they’re right: none shall pass.
Until someone does, anyway. As Souths did last night at ANZ.
The Roosters were staunch and all the above for 47 minutes. They were all over the Rabbitohs.
Then Souths had a crack at Mitchell’s left edge and Campbell Graham found GI Joe out of position and friendless.
Damien Cook then tore up guts as Damien Cook can, and set free a veritable stampede of Bunnies. And down the field they streamed, the Bun-Buns, until Cody Walker iced a fine team try.
Two opportunities, two tries.
And the Rabbitohs began to defend as the Chooks had been. And the Chooks began to miss all those guys on the bench.
Throw in Adam Reynolds’ four goals and Souths’ 16 points were enough to beat the premiers.
But they weren’t the Roosters that will play even next week. These were the Roosters that nearly beat the third-best team in the comp without all those guys.
So, for mine, it remains the Roosters’ title to win, for they possess the best players in the comp.