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2 days ago
Teddy's Picnic or Rooster's Roadkill?
Of all the returns versus a form club in Round 1, I think this one is definitely the most intriguing. James Tedesco was long hailed as part of a big 4 that would lead the Wests Tigers to the Rugby League promised land, a core group of players that the Wests Tigers could build a Melbourne Storm type dynasty around. Then along came Ivan, not since the Belanglo State Forest was made famous by another Ivan has there been this many casualties in the South West of Sydney, it was a case of get on the bus or the you're off at the next stop - in Moses' case he was asked to leave before the bus even stopped!
It is this reunion that is sure to add some spice to the match, throw in the possibly overwhelming expectations on a Roosters roster that in the eyes of most pundits needs to deliver the premiership, or be written off a failure and I can just imagine the kind words Josh Reynolds will have for his opponents if the Roosters don't get off to a flying start.
Last meeting: Round 24 2017 - Roosters 22 Wests Tigers 18
This pair have met 30 times and it's not good reading for the black, orange and white. The Roosters have won 22 of those clashes, including both matches last year - Round 24 at Allianz and Round 14 at Campbelltown (a 40-18 thumping, no less).
Who to watch: Latrell Mitchell. All eyes will rightly be on the big money arrival in Messrs Cronk and Tedesco however if you're looking for where the damage will be done then I'd be looking to this particular young man. Coming up against a backline that will be virtually unrecognisable compared to the one that finished 2017. With a full season of first grade under his belt and another of season of training for the big time I am expecting big things from Mitchell starting with giving Kevin Naiqama nightmares in round 1!
Josh Reynolds. Oh Grub, where do we start? World beater one week, lippy and annoying the next. Should the Roosters fail to get out of first gear in the early stages, I am betting Reynolds' infamous sledging will come to the fore as he looks to get under the skin of his opponents. Beyond his niggle there is a talented playmaker with a huge point to prove - made the scapegoat of a dysfunctional Canterbury attack in 2017, I am forecasting the man they call Grub will be wriggling through defensive lines all year.
The favourite: The off-season additions at the Tricolours have them solid favourites for victory here.
My tip: As much as I'd love to pick an upset for the Tigers fans who have been through a few pretty tough years I just can't see it happening. A strong forward pack, dynamic outside backs being lead around by a half back who is so organised he styles his hair in alphabetical order will be too much for the new look Tigers this time around. Roosters to win by 22.
1. Tuimoala Lolohea 2. Corey Thompson 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 14. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Pita Godinet 17. Matt Eisenhuth 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Robert Rochow 13. Elijah Taylor 10. Ben Matulino 15. Alex Twal 16. Michael Chee Kam 18. Matt McIlwrick
1. James Tedesco 5. Blake Ferguson 4. Joseph Manu 3. Latrell Mitchell 2. Daniel Tupou 6. Mitchell Cornish 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 16. Ryan Matterson 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Isaac Liu 11. Boyd Cordner 14. Dylan Napa 15. Zane Tetevano 17. Victor Radley
Referees: Gavin Badger, Peter Gough; Sideline Officials: Nick Morel, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski; Video Referees: Luke Patten, Ashley Klein;