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Are Roosters good or average in 2022? Not sure if baffling Lodge decision will make much difference

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Expert
29th June, 2022
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Can anyone work out whether the Sydney Roosters are a good or an average team in 2022?

With 10 rounds of the regular season remaining, the Roosters sit in ninth position on the ladder with seven wins and eight losses.

The Roosters have been able to knock over some top-eight teams in the first 15 rounds including the North Queensland Cowboys, Brisbane Broncos, Cronulla Sharks and Parramatta Eels.

But there have been some concerning losses along the way, including to competition cellar dwellars the Canterbury Bulldogs.

If the Roosters are going to make the finals, there are some teams that they will need to beat in the remaining rounds with games against the Penrith Panthers, Broncos, Cowboys, Melbourne Storm and South Sydney still to come.

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In my view, a couple of things need to change if the Roosters are going to make the top eight and then be competitive in the finals.

Let’s start with players that have returned from injury.

We all recall what happened with the Roosters last year. Despite a significant injury toll which saw them without several key players throughout the season like Lindsay Collins, Victor Radley, Siosiua Taukeiaho, Joseph Manu and Sam Verrils, the Roosters managed to finish sixth. It was impressive.

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On that basis and given the calibre of players fit and healthy for this year, many predicted that the Roosters would win the competition.

But in my view, a couple of players have not bounced back from injury as well as hoped, in particular Keary and Collins.

Keary is almost worth a separate discussion. In my view, Robinson needs to swap him and Sam Walker around.

When I think about Keary and when he has been the most successful in his career, it is when he has played with a dominant half. He has had this opportunity several times throughout his career including when he played with Cooper Cronk and Adam Reynolds.

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Cooper Cronk of the Roosters celebrates with Luke Keary

Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Swap the two players and put Sam Walker as first receiver.

He may only be young, and as an extremely effective people leader Robinson may be worried about pressure on a younger player, but in my view Walker is capable enough to lean into that challenge.

There are a couple of other strange things happening at the Roosters at the moment too.

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In my view, Robinson is one of the best coaches in the game. He is the longest-serving head coach in Roosters history and is now in his 10th season. His record speaks for itself.

I am even more confident in this view given that the news that Matt Lodge could sign with the club. I know this is a team that has been missing Jared Warea-Hargreaves with hamstring problems, but for a coach that seems so focused on creating leaders on and off the field, Lodge seems a baffling choice.

Forget his serious indiscretions off the field; his treatment of the Warriors alone is enough for me to ask some questions. Lodge is aware that if he plays for the Roosters he will need to be based in Sydney, right?

In 2013 he claimed both the minor premiership and NRL premiership. The Roosters have won minor premierships in 2014, 2015 and 2019 and he also became the first coach in the NRL era to lead a team to back-to-back premierships in 2018 and 2019.

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But potentially, what I see as one of Robinson’s biggest strengths has become more of a challenge for him in season 2022; and that’s loyalty.

Robinson is very good at managing his team through a season. He is also very good at sticking to a plan and not hitting the panic button when something isn’t going quite right.

Trent Robinson

Trent Robinson (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)


But that loyalty has led to some curious selection decisions this year.

For some reason, Sitili Tupouniua seems to be the main point person for attack this year.

He is a solid player and he does have impact, but the Roosters seem intent on going to the right even in circumstances where they have had more success through the left edge in Angus Crichton.

Why do the Roosters keep going to the right?

Additionally, Crichton is one of the best players in the game and Robinson seems unclear on what his role is with him alternating between starting and coming off the bench.

But, despite the challenges the Roosters are facing, there are still some shining lights.

Joseph Manu continues to be impressive and on the weekend when he played for the New Zealand Kiwis demonstrated that he can be an effective fullback.

Obviously the fullback position at the Roosters is sewn up by James Tedesco, but I wonder if there is an opportunity to get Manu more involved, because he is one of the Roosters most dangerous players.

For a player that had some much hype on his shoulders coming into this season, it has also been a joy to watch Joseph Suaalii. He is clearly a special player and is not only doing the simple things right, but also executing some brilliant attack in moments too.

He continues to be an exciting prospect for the Roosters and absolutely has the potential to be a game changer for the team.

In my view, the reality for the Roosters is this is a year where they will make the finals, but not really have any impact.

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