Before the 2021 season kicked off, the Roosters were favourites in many people’s eyes to feature heavily in the finals series once again and maybe even win another premiership.
Sydney Roosters hooker Sam Verrills must beat a high tackle charge to play in their NRL semi-final against Manly on Friday night in Mackay.
After the Roosters’ one-point win over Gold Coast, Verrills was issued with a grade two careless high tackle charge by the NRL match review committee.
Verrills has no priors this season but the grade two charge carries a one-week penalty with an early guilty plea, or two for an unsuccessful challenge, putting him in danger of missing the elimination final.
The 22-year-old was put on report for the alleged high shot in the 37th minute of Saturday’s heart-stopping victory which forced Titans centre Brian Kelly off the field with a bloodied nose.
Verrills braced himself for contact as Kelly ran the ball but the Roosters rake appeared to dip a shoulder into his opponent’s head.
He wasn’t sent to the sin bin, which split opinion, although Roosters captain James Tedesco was confident post-match his teammate would escape a serious sanction.
“He couldn’t really move, he didn’t make any sort of forceful contact. (Kelly) just sort of fell into it,” Tedesco said.
“He hasn’t had any charges or fines for a while … I don’t think he’s ever had any so he should be sweet.
“I don’t think it should be a suspension but any contact with the head should be a penalty.”
Typical of the Roosters’ tumultuous season, it comes after Victor Radley made his return from a three-week suspension in the 25-24 win.
The fiery young lock was enormous in the victory, proving to be a huge inclusion for the finals after missing eight games through bans this year.
“He plays with his heart and soul, he puts everything on the line and his body on the line every week,” Tedesco said.
“He was disappointed to miss some games this year through suspension and you realise how good of a player he is when you miss him for a few weeks and he comes back in and plays like he did (on Saturday night).
“Both sides of the ball in attack and defence, he’s awesome and I love playing with him.”
There were fears he’d suffered a serious shoulder injury after an attempt to tackle Sam Lisone left him sprawled on the turf in pain.
However, he shook it off to play 80 minutes and is not expected to be in any doubt to play the Sea Eagles.
“He’s a game-changer, he’ll go after moments,” coach Trent Robinson said.
“I didn’t want him to overplay but he’s still searching, he’s got courage in defence but he’s also got courage with the ball.
“That’s why he’s dangerous, he’s happy to play. That’s what we want.”