Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Roosters coach Ricky Stuart has denied the club?s preparation heading into Monday?s emotion-charged Anzac Day clash with the Dragons will be hampered with Test stars Craig Fitzgibbon, Craig Wing, Anthony Minichiello and Jason Cayless unavailable for training this week.
Stuart said he was confident the quartet of in-form stars would be able to back up without any major hassles.
?They are all quality athletes, and most importantly they know our structures at training and on the field inside out, so there won?t be any dramas there,? Stuart said this morning.
?Provided they don?t get injured in Friday?s test they?ll all play.?
Stuart also said he was weary of a Dragons outfit desperate to end a worrying run of outs over the opening six rounds.
?They?ve been getting better every week, and this week will be tough playing against a team that?s so desperate,? he said.
?They?ve got some fantastic players there and when they?re all in sync they?re a fantastic team.?
The entire Roosters squad was bouncing at training this morning, visibly reinvigorated after Friday?s stirring win over the Bulldogs.
Players underwent a series of rigorous hand-eye coordination, tackling, boxing and ballwork drills, but emphasised the need not to get too far ahead of themselves.
?The confidence at the club picked up dramatically ? we all enjoyed Friday night ? but most impressively now the players are keen to back it up again this week,? Luke Ricketson said.
?If we come out against Saints and play poorly than our effort against the Bulldogs means nothing.
?Momentum is a funny thing, once you have it you become very hard for other teams to contain, so that?s the aim for us now ? to get out there this week and next week and build that force up.?
Roosters halfback Brett Finch returned to the form which saw him nearly win the 2004 Dally M medal against the Bulldogs, and will be looking to lead the side around the park again ? as he did so admirably with 12 men on Friday night.
Finch inspired his team-mates following Adrian Morley?s send-off by telling them to look at the emblem on their chest and dig deep for each other.
Finch?s former halves partner Brad Fittler praised the 23-year-old, saying: ?He?s a passionate guy and a great talker. The players respect him and look to him on the field for direction and he showed that in spades against the Bulldogs.?
The annual Anzac Day clash has produced arguably the best club games of the year over recent seasons, with Fittler inspiring a brave 11-8 win in 2004, while the Dragons stunned the Roosters in 2003 by putting on 18 points in 10 minutes before the Roosters even touched the ball.
Dragons coach Nathan Brown said the significance of the match was not lost on the players.
?None of us would be here enjoying the lifestyles we do today without the men who fought for our country all those years ago,? Brown said.
?The significance of that isn?t lost on the players.?
The Roosters team is;
ANTHONY MINICHIELLO JOEL MONAGHAN CHRIS FLANNERY RYAN CROSS CHRIS WALKER AMOS ROBERTS BRETT FINCH JASON CAYLESS CRAIG WING ADRIAN MORLEY MICHAEL CROCKER CRAIG FITZGIBBON LUKE RICKETSON ( C )
STUART WEBB RICHARD FA?AOSO BEN HANNANT ANTHONY TUPOU