Today Sam Bourke takes a look at the optimism in the water out Bondi way, as the Sydney Roosters loo...
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After an unexpected Grand Final appearance in 2010, big things were expected from the Sydney Roosters in the 2011 NRL Season.
However the drama began early with star five-eighth Todd Carney being charged with a DUI before the season even kicked off. The Todd Carney drama was not the only event that foreshadowed what was to come for the Chooks in 2011, the 2010 Grand Finalists also failed to come away with a win from two off season matches. Despite a poor lead up to the season the Roosters looked good in their opening match of the season downing the Rabbitohs 40-29 despite being minus Todd Carney. Unfortunately for the Roosters and their fans things began going downhill from there with the Roosters surrendering leads in consecutive weeks to lose to an understrength Manly and the Bulldogs.
As the season progressed the Roosters struggled to put on points, going ten matches without scoring more than two tries in a game. However, the Roosters began to find form late in season - winning four consecutive matches including a victory against the Minor Premiers the Storm and the defending premiers the St George Illawarra Dragons. However despite the team finding form, the off-field controversies continued with Todd Carney, Nate Myles and Frank Paul Nuuasala breaking a two week booze ban and being stood down.
The Roosters finished off the season with four back to back to wins after a poor start, team morale and discipline increased significantly in their final matches of the season.
The Roosters Toyota Cup
side showed dramatic improvements during the
season, managing to win 11 matches in a row - a Toyota Cup record.
Off-field scandals involving star five-eighth Todd Carney caused the Roosters headaches throughout the season, forcing coach Brian Smith to stand him down for several seven matches throughout the season. To make matters worse Carney battled a groin injury throughout the season and never appeared close to returning to his 2010 form.
The Chooks also struggled with injuries during the season forcing the NRL to allow them to exceed the second tier cap in order to field a first grade team every week.
Jake Friend went from strength to strength in 2011 to take out the Jack Gibson medal for Roosters player of the year. The young hooker averaged over 40 tackles a game in 2011 and was a star for the chook every match.
Firebrand forward Jared Warwrea-Hargreaves
was another standout for the Chooks, bringing the mongrel back into to the
team's forward pack and becoming a player the opposition fears.
With injuries decimating the Roosters throughout 2011 Brian Smith was often forced to call on some rookies with Brad Takairangi, Boyd Cordner, Lama Tasi and Tinirau Arona showing the most promise.
Best Line-up for 2012
Interchange: 14 Tom Symonds15 Boyd Cordner 16 Mose Masoe 17 Brad Takairangi
Anthony Mitchell (Eels) - Mid Season, Jack Bosden (Dragons), Peni Tagive (Dragons), Daniel Tupou (Eels), Adam Henry (Warriors), Josh Ailaomai (Knights), Daniel Mortimer (Eels), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Otahuhu, NZ)