Round 17: Roosters v Cowboys preview
Roosters look to put Origin period in the past against desperate Cowboys
Winning a premiership isn't a simple task of doing one thing right. You need a multi-pronged approach to success - one that includes not only attention to on-field success but preparation off it.
In particular, the way that you manage injuries. In 2018, the Roosters were relatively fortunate to avoid significant setbacks.
Friend, who makes his return from a bicep injury this week, has been restricted to just three games.
Keary, who was emphatic in his comeback last week, has been hampered by concussion concerns.
Throughout the Origin period Trent Robinson has taken the cautious route, resting his stars two at a time. Some weeks it would be Latrell Mitchell and Angus Crichton, before the pair both lost their rep spots. This time it is Tedesco and Boyd Cordner.
Despite a couple of hiccups, they have passed through this testing period with a couple of wins to their name.
Now marks the time that they start their charge towards the title. It just seems that as they slowly regroup and find consistency in their line-up, Robinson's men will only get better. A scary thought given they have only dropped five games this year.
This week's clash with the Cowboys is one they are expected to win.
North Queensland have injury problems of their own, with Michael Morgan out of Sunday's game after suffering a sickening concussion in the State of Origin decider. John Asiata is expected to fill in for him in the halves. Meanwhile, Matt Scott makes a timely return via the bench while Coen Hess is also a chance of playing after being named in the reserves.
The Cowboys would have been disappointed with their last-start loss to the Dragons, having held a comfortable lead at half-time before falling to defeat. Their late collapse coincided with Morgan being forced off with another concussion.
It will be interesting to see whether they fare better with a bit more time and preparation without him.
Who to watch: The battle of the locks is an interesting one here.
With Friend returning in the number nine jersey, Victor Radley reverts back to his preferred position in the middle. Whilst lacking the size of his opposite this week, the Roosters dynamo hits just as hard and will relish the opportunity to prove himself against one of the competition's fiercest packs.
That pack is led by none other than Jason Taumalolo. The rampaging lock was able to kick back and relax in last week's bye round and will be recharged and reading to tear in on Sunday. A well-known metre-eater, Taumalolo also possesses a nifty late offload which could help spark North Queensland's attack in Morgan's absence.
The favourite: The Roosters are heavy favourites here.