‘I put out a young side… it’s almost been men against boys.’
With the gates locked to fans and players alike, here’s a team to tackle the elephant in the room.
1. Tom Trbojevic
The tallest Trbojevic has saved more tries than Manly have scored in the opening two rounds. And at last week’s Leichhardt lock-out his teammates had more chance of catching COVID-19 than containing a Roosters pandemic. James Tedesco, Brett Morris and Luke Keary made breaks for fun, but in Tommy Turbo they were cleaned up when it mattered most.
2. Josh Morris
Cleanskins are often blessed with impeccable timing, but Josh Morris tops the lot. With the doors in motion, the pining veteran washed his hands of the Sharks just in time to bunker down in Bondi alongside twin brother Brett.
3. Curtis Scott
They reckon cockroaches can survive a nuclear blast, and while Curtis Scott’s arrest outside a demolished Sydney Football Stadium looked like a re-enactment, the sanitiser brigade can rest easy knowing the Raiders recruit can take a taser for the team.
4. Paul Momirovski
If you’re good enough to fool yourself, fair chance the opposition will be clueless too. Tiger Paul Momirovski wanted Bellamy torture only to be denied until a belated greenlight saw him loaned to Melbourne. But as it turns out, his next game will still probably be for Wests.
5. Jorge Taufua
Cameron Munster and Ryan Papenhuyzen top a growing list of players who’ve had their ribs rammed into their spine by the Tongan torpedo. And while there’s still a curve to flatten, Scott Morrison should feel heartened with Taufua on the books.
6. Kieran Foran
Having played 26 games out of a possible 50, no-one isolates better than the luckless Bulldog.
7. Mitchell Pearce
Despite a premiership trophy and now an Origin shield, the Newcastle half still has his critics. But with skin thicker than last year’s paint, there’s none better to lead with the rubber gloves.
8. Addin Fonua-Blake
The first player to front a press conference in a surgical mask makes this metre-maker an automatic selection.
9. Cameron Smith
Like today’s opponent, Smith’s invisible to officials and doesn’t miss games. COVID-19 is no more dangerous than anything else this legend has grappled before.
10. Jarrod Wallace
Many say the charge-down is not essential, but with the most last season, this Titan should be encouraged even if he comes from inside the mandatory 1.5 metres.
11. David Fifita
If the curse isn’t beaten, then David Fifita has scored the try of the season. Like Jason Taumalolo with a bee up his snout, no-one can stop him. He’s more than a weapon; he’s a legitimate excuse for opponents to self-isolate.
12. Jamil Hopoate
Everyone knows there’s more variety in the Hopoate family than a bag of mixed lollies. But in these trying times door-to-door disciple recruitment leaves Will on the outer while brother Jamil takes up the slack.
13. Jake Trbojevic
Sadly, coronavirus has turned many onto their back right across the globe. Good luck flipping Jake Trbojevic. You’d be the first.