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Sydney Roosters 2006 season preview
Likely squad Anthony Minichello, Lelea Paea, Ryan Cross, Isolia Soliola, Amos Roberts, Braith Anasta, Brett Finch, Craig Fitzgibbon, John Doyle, Adrian Morley, Chris Flannery, Anthony Tupou, Ashley Harrison
Interchange: David Shillington, Mark Edmondson, Lopeni Paea, Craig Wing
The Roosters have one of the better backlines in the competition. While it may not be the best, they have a tremendous amount of skill. Amos Roberts and Anthony Minichello spearhead the backline and if both men fire on their day, the Roosters will run riot over anyone.
The starting forward pack is also very strong. Despite the losses of Jason Cayless, Luke Ricketson and Michael Crocker the Roosters still field a very strong starting pack. Tupou and Morley are intimidating figures in the side while new recruit Ashley Harrison will prove to be what many believe as the buy of the season. The rangy lock is one of the best in the game and will finally get a chance to prove that he is Origin standard.
The use of Craig Wing off the bench will be vital for the Roosters. His impact can break a game wide open and set up wins for the Roosters. If he isn?t on his game when he is put into the attack it could spell dramas for the Roosters.
The Roosters? bench is not the strongest in the competition and apart from Craig Wing, none of the other players would be the type of player to strike fear into the hearts of opposition teams. While the three guys have potential, they do not have that ?fear factor? in order to give a team an edge when the game is in the balance after 20-30 minutes. This is a problem for the Roosters.
The Roosters? depth seems a bit shaky at the moment. While they have quality players in Premier League, they neglect to have the adequate first grade experience to be an instant success and compare to the depths of the likes of the Tigers or Eels. This could be a problem for the Roosters should the inevitable injuries occur.
Brett Finch is a weakness to this team. He would possibly have to be the most one-dimensional halfback in the competition. He lacks the adequate creativity to win the competition for the Roosters. Last year showed why the Roosters were so reliant on Brad Fittler and this season they will be relying on Anasta. The Roosters have the better solution in Jamie Soward in Reserve Grade, but that would mean the administration would have to swallow their pride and put a form player in, instead of someone who they pay big dollars.
One to Watch:
Adam Schubert is the player to watch for the Roosters this season. The 94kg, 182cm workhorse second row has built up reputation as being a damaging and tenacious defender. He got a real taste of First Grade in 2005 when the Roosters had injury dramas and Origin duties and he didn?t disappoint.
In his debut against Manly in an epic battle which eventually Manly won, Adam was one of the best on field making crucial tackles and much needed metres. His best assets are of course his defence and also his working ethic.
With the Roosters losing many forwards in the off-season, you?d have to think Adam would be foremost in the mind of Ricky Stuart and rightly so. He definitely has a future in the game.
Gains and Losses:
Gains: Ashley Harrison, Braith Anasta, John Doyle, Charlie Tonga, Mitchell Pearce, Glen Hall, Mark Edmonson.
Losses: Michael Crocker, Luke Ricketson, Chris Walker, Jason Cayless, Ben Hannant, Stuart Webb, George Rose, Ned Catic, Grant Rovelli, James Aubusson, Jack Rampling. Richard Fa?oso
The Roosters have the team to make the top 8 if they can keep the same 17 on the park every week. If they get injuries however, particularly in the forwards, they will struggle to remain consistent enough to threaten for any title. They have lost aggression and inspiration in the off-season along with valuable depth, something that hasn?t been adequately replaced.
I see the Roosters finishing between 7th and 10th.