2024 NRL Jerseys
55 days ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
AJ Lucantonio returns to recap the Tricolours' 2023 campaign in the next of our series of NRL club reviews.
Season 2023 was expected to be one that saw the side return to being a competition force. With the signing of Brandon Smith and critical depth pieces, it's one that had many high hopes for the boys from Bondi.
Before a ball was kicked, problems arose with Connor Watson getting hurt and not playing a single second, as well as Angus Crichton's well-documented mental health problems. The side was up against the wall from the moment their plane departed for Brisbane.
With that being said, the Roosters embarked on their traditional Round 1 loss, this time more embarrassing than the past, losing to the expansion side from the north in the Dolphins. The Tricolours quickly rebounded to win their next three, before a two game skid saw cracks emerge. Sam Walker was made collateral damage and didn't return after suffering an injury in NSW Cup until Round 26.
This saw a halves combination by-committee with Joey Manu, Sandon Smith and Drew Hutchison taking turns partnering Luke Keary in the halves. This combined with the slump in form from senior players such as James Tedesco and Victor Radley on-top of Brandon Smith's hand injury saw the Chooks as low as 14th with seven weeks to go.
They rallied and somehow, somewhere made the finals (thanks in large part to South Sydney's demise) and gave it a decent showing in the semis before bowing out in controversial circumstances against Melbourne.
While everyone will point to the victory over the Titans as the moment the fortunes changed. I am looking at it differently, for the first two months of the year. The defensive structure was absolutely horrific. The side was far too often collapsing in a heap, completely going away from the Bondi Wall which saw the side win three premierships in seven seasons.
This saw them losing to an inconsistent Cowboys side and the Dragons, following which the Roosters fired Jason Ryles and bring in recently retired club legends Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend join the staff to fix the mess of a defensive structure Ryles left behind. The defence improved seemingly overnight, and the boys enjoyed their football again. It improved quickly, and it was the moment they needed to make the finals.
The return of Brandon Smith back to his best in Round 20 saw the Roosters play a much better brand of attacking football. This saw a return to straight up attack and go-forward which allowed Keary and Hutchison to get the Chooks back to where they wanted to get to in Rounds 23-25.
Also, the trust in fringe players such as Siua Wong, Terrell May, Fletcher Baker, Sandon Smith, Junior Pauga and Naufahu Whyte gave the side a boost, knowing anyone could come in and do their job.
Once again, the first half of a season was an absolute mess. This side was too good to be in the position they were with so little time to fix it. Coming off a World Cup and having to rejig the spine for a THIRD consecutive season with so little time was a disaster waiting to happen.
It showed through the first few months as the Roosters were consistently the worst attack in the NRL. Fortunately, it improved towards the end of the year and it will be the same spine in 2024. Roosters fans are praying new assistant Justin Holbrook gets it right.
|1||Mar 5th||Sun 3:05pm||A||Dolphins||L||18||-||28||Suncorp||32,177||15th|
|2||Mar 11th||Sat 3:00pm||H||Warriors||W||20||-||12||Allianz||16,267||9th|
|3||Mar 17th||Fri 8:00pm||H||Souths||W||20||-||18||Allianz||36,639||4th|
|5||Mar 30th||Thu 7:50pm||H||Parramatta||W||28||-||20||Allianz||20,886||4th|
|6||Apr 6th||Thu 7:50pm||A||Melbourne||L||8||-||28||AAMI||16,323||8th|
|7||Apr 14th||Fri 6:00pm||A||Cronulla||L||12||-||22||Pointsbet||11,489||9th|
|8||Apr 25th||Tue 4:05pm||H||St Geo Illa||W||27||-||26||Allianz||40,191||9th|
|9||Apr 30th||Sun 4:00pm||A||Warriors||W||14||-||0||Mt Smart||20,395||5th|
|10||May 7th||Sun 4:00pm||H*||North QLD||L||6||-||20||Suncorp||46,835||8th|
|11||May 12th||Fri 8:00pm||A||Penrith||L||4||-||48||Bluebet||20,255||10th|
|12||May 19th||Fri 6:00pm||A||St Geo Illa||L||22||-||24||Netstrata||9,007||10th|
|14||Jun 4th||Sun 2:00pm||H*||Canterbury||W||25||-||24||Gosford||18,338||10th|
|15||Jun 10th||Sat 7:35pm||H||Penrith||L||6||-||30||Allianz||23,610||13th|
|16||Jun 17th||Sat 3:00pm||A||Newcastle||W||18||-||16||McD Jones||21,966||11th|
|17||Jun 25th||Sun 6:15pm||H||Canberra||L||18||-||20||Allianz||13,326||12th|
|18||Jul 2nd||Sun 4:05pm||A||Manly||L||16||-||18||4 Pines Park||17,385||12th|
|20||Jul 15th||Sat 7:35pm||H||Melbourne||L||16||-||30||SCG||12,021||14th|
|21||Jul 22nd||Sat 3:00pm||A||Gold Coast||W||36||-||18||Cbus||15,362||13th|
|22||Jul 27th||Thu 7:50pm||A||Brisbane||L||10||-||32||Gabba||21,841||12th|
|23||Aug 3rd||Thu 7:50pm||H||Manly||W||26||-||16||SCG||12,197||12th|
|24||Aug 12th||Sat 7:35pm||H||Dolphins||W||30||-||14||Allianz||13,704||11th|
|25||Aug 18th||Fri 8:00pm||A||Parramatta||W||34||-||12||CommBank||20,076||11th|
|26||Aug 26th||Sat 5:30pm||H||Wests Tigers||W||32||-||8||Allianz||22,511||11th|
|27||Sep 1st||Fri 8:00pm||A||Souths||W||26||-||12||Accor||36,263||7th|
|EF||Sep 9th||Sat 7:50pm||A||Cronulla||W||13||-||12||Pointsbet||12,570||-|
|SF||Sep 15th||Fri 7:50pm||A||Melbourne||L||13||-||18||AAMI||19,534||-|
There were times this year that the performances of Lindsay Collins were so super-human they seem unrealistic. Last season, a lot of fans were critical of Collins after doing so well at QLD level and then being mixed at club land. This year saw that QLD form carry into his Roosters performances on a weekly basis with the individual efforts being amazing on a weekly basis.
Also to shine was Billy Smith, the modern day Brett Papworth managed to stay healthy this season and turned in a spectacular year always ranging as one of the Chooks best in every match. Luke Keary played every game and was the victim of the collateral damage around him, but gave 100% every single week and deserves kudos. Terrell May proved his worth, earning a Samoan jumper with a strong end of the season and with JWH's inability to keep his discipline, the starting spot will be his in Round 1 and might be for the remainder of the season.
The Roosters saw the NRL debut of two players in 2023. Sandon Smith and Siua Wong. Sandon played anywhere and everywhere for the Roosters in what was a troubling year, from hooker to half and even a stint at fullback in the finals when every other option went down... He has a lot of upside and with a strong off-season, could cement that 14 spot.
Siua Wong has emerged as the Boyd Cordner replacement the Roosters have been asking for, for years. Wong never disappointed every time he started, first it was out of need. Then with strong performances, he earnt the start keeping the likes of Egan Butcher and Angus Crichton on the bench and in the middle. His spot is his to lose in 2024 after this strong run to end the season.
30 players, average age 26.36yrs
Coach: Trent Robinson
Captains: James Tedesco (23), Luke Keary (3)
Biggest home crowd: 40,191 (vs. St George Illawarra in round 1)
Average home crowd: 22,868
Top pointscorer: Joseph-Aukuso Sua'ali'i (124)
Top tryscorer: James Tedesco (12)
Looking at the year ahead, the backline puzzle will be keen to watch. I've opted for Suaalii at centre to start the year with Young on the wing but that could easily change pending circumstances. So watch that battle closely.
They need to start strong in 2024 to avoid the disasters of last season. If they can get the results done, then they definitely have the roster to end the Panthers dynasty.
... in Vegas!
based on current signings at time of writing
1: James Tedesco
2: Daniel Tupou
3: Joey Manu
4: Joesph Suaalii
5: Dominic Young
6: Luke Keary
7: Sam Walker
8: Lindsay Collins
9: Brandon Smith
11: Siua Wong
12: Nat Butcher
13: Victor Radley
14: Connor Watson
15: Egan Butcher
16: Spencer Leniu
17: Terrell May