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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
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.
This year has been different. Their classy spine of James Tedesco, Luke Keary, Cooper Cronk and Jake Friend have played few games together.
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.
Last meeting: Round 21 2018 - Roosters 26 Cowboys 20
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.
My tip: Without Morgan, it's hard to see the Cowboys having enough points to trouble the Tricolours. Roosters by 16.
1. Joseph Manu 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Brett Morris 5. Ryan Hall 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 13. Victor Radley 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Nat Butcher 12. Mitchell Aubusson 14. Isaac Liu 9. Jake Friend 15. Angus Crichton 16. Sitili Tupouniua 17. Poasa Faamausili
1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Jordan Kahu 4. Tom Opacic 5. Javid Bowen 14. John Asiata 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo 15. Matt Scott 16. Scott Bolton 17. Francis Molo 18. Coen Hess
Referees: Peter Gough, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski; Sideline Officials: Liam Nicholls, Phil Henderson; Video Referees: Steve Clark, Ben Galea;