The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The Sydney Roosters imposed an alcohol ban on themselves in a bid to get their NRL title defence back on track following last month's dismal 42-10 defeat to North Queensland. Following Mitchell Pearce and Boyd Cordner's well-publicised night on the tiles in Sydney, which landed both players in hot water, the Roosters have made the decision to ban the entire squad from drinking until the end of the season. The club implemented a similar rule on the squad last season, and the results were clear as the tricolours went on to secure a sensational Grand Final victory over Manly to clinch the Premiership title last year.
Following their humbling at the hands of North Queensland, the Roosters held an impromptu team-meeting in a bid to address a number of issues, not least the fall-out from Pearce and Cordner's big night out. With head coach Trent Robinson and captain Anthony Minichiello both understood to be keen to get to the bottom of why the team had struggled so badly during the opening stages of the season, the squad made the decision to replicate their booze ban from last season in the hope of repeating their achievements from last year.
"It was a heavy loss, we were poor. Not only does the consumption of alcohol and other issues drain energy from individuals but from the club - and the team performance drops. If you drop 1 per cent it can convert into 10 points. If you're talking about a 2 or 3 per cent drop, you get 30 or 40 points put on you," Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan admitted.
"The players realised we needed to do something a bit different to get a performance. The conversation went along those lines, looking at the one-percenters. And [banning alcohol] was one of them and probably the first one."
Following his high-profile arrest after his night out, Pearce had already vowed not to drink alcohol again during the season, which won't be a bad thing for the half-back after being fined $20,000 for his behaviour as well as missing out on the $90,000 he would have made from playing in all three Origin games. Cordner didn't get off scot-free, either, forced to shell out $5,000 for his part in what can now be classed as an expensive evening out for the duo.
There was a silver-lining for the Roosters, however, and the club is now likely to retain halves pairing Pearce and James Maloney throughout the Origin period after being previously resigned to coping without them. And the turnaround in form following the alcohol ban has been dramatic, with convincing wins against Canterbury and Canberra helping put the Roosters season back on track and enhancing their hopes of defending the title they won last year in such epic circumstances - something the bet365 odds believe will happen, with the Roosters now 9/2 favourites to defend their title.
"That poor performance that evening made us click into another mindset," Canavan said about the club's return to form since that Cowboys defeat last month.