NRL tips NRL preview, roosters season preview

NRL expert Steve Green has put together his mammoth season preview for 2021. We’re running through every club, from his predicted wooden spooners to those he thinks will take out he premiership. Today it’s the Roosters season preview.

2020 recap

The Roosters came into 2020 as the team most likely to go back-to-back for a very long time. They had retained most of their squad and had recruited well to cover any losses. They started the season strongly. However things started to fall away once the lost guys like Radley and Verrils to long term injury.

Flanagan started to fall out of favour at 7, with Robinson putting him on notice with a shock dropping. Although Flanagan was struggling in attack at times, I thought Coach Robinson’s decision to not stick with him, and then being forced to bring him back Lam got injured, typified the flustered way the Roosters played in 2020.

The Roosters were close to the middle of the pack with errors per game and were not in the top five for metres conceded. While they conceded very few line breaks, the Roosters of 2020 just did not have the hunger they had in 2019.

Whether they can recapture their form of past seasons will come down to how well their number 7 performs (whoever it is), how well Keary and Cordner cope with the concussion concerns and how well the aging Morris brothers back up in 2021.

Roosters season preview: Losses

Flanagan has left in bitter circumstances. The ace goal kicker was clearly upset with how he was treated at the tricolours. This leaves a big hole in their goal kicking department, with Taukeiaho the only notable goal kicker. While he is very good for a front rower, he will be shooting well below Flanagan’s percentage. And at most he will be on for 60 minutes a game.

But besides Flanagan, no one of note has left the Roosters squad. Aubusson, Sonny Bill and Ryan Hall have all moved on to retirement, or back to Super League or Union.

Roosters season preview: Gains

Adam Keighran is a handy pick up off the Warriors. He was unlucky not to get more game time in the halves at the Warriors. He’s also shown he’s versatile with some good performances in the centres. But the big signing was teen sensation Joseph Suaalii. While the hype has been extreme, the footage I have seen suggests he could be anything. The fact that Wayne Bennett and Trent Robinson thought he was worth fighting over – and Brad Fittler wants him cleared to play Origin ASAP – suggests this kid will be in first grade sooner rather than later.

Roosters season preview: Rookie radar

While Lachlan Lam will get first crack at 7, Sam Walker is another young guy the Roosters have been grooming for this halfback role. He has unbelievable skills and looks to be a very smart footballer. While Lam is far bigger and rugged, if he doesn’t gel with Keary and find a way to create points, I think Walker could end up being the half by the end of the year. Though at 78kg, he probably needs another pre-season to bulk up before he’s able to mix it with the big boys..

Roosters season preview: Players to watch

Sam Verrills is one of those forgotten men from 2020. After he went down early it was left to Friend, Lam and F Lussick to share the 9 jersey. I think Verrills is better than all of them. After scoring a try in the Roosters 2019 Grand Final win, I thought Verrills would have wrapped up the 9 jersey in 2020. I am expecting him to add some real spark to the Roosters around the ruck in 2021. His dummy-half speed is a feature of his game.

Lachlan Lam, as mentioned above, is the favourite to wear number 7 in 2021. However, the son of legend Adrian Lam has not played many games as a starting 7. And he had his 2020 cut short due to an ankle injury. He is very solid for a half and has a great running game. But he’s yet to show me he has the game management and finesse needed to be a top NRL half. With Walker and Suaalii waiting for their chance, Lam has a ton of pressure on him to perform in 2021.

Victor Radley was a huge loss for the Roosters. With the game quickening up, mobile lock forwards like Radley that can move the ball well are worth their weight in gold. Radley is a hard hitter that was on the verge of playing Origin in 2019. I think 2021 will be the year he challenges Murray and Jake T for their Blues jersey, and will establish himself as one of the truly elite back rowers in the game.

Roosters season preview: Weaknesses

The Roosters were the oldest side in the competition in 2020. While age was not a downside last year, with older teams like the Eels and Storm also making the Top 4, they’re all another year older heading into 2021. That could be an issue on the injury front. The Morris brothers will be turning 35, while Friend is not getting any zippier at 31. JWH turns 32. While Cordner is only 28, his history of head knocks will see him miss the first half of the season as a precaution.

They will also miss Flanagan’s goal kicking! They have a few options, but Taukieaho can only play 55 to 60 minutes max. So that could be a big issue in close games.

Roosters season preview: Strengths

As explained above, they have an amazing winning culture. With Tedesco, Keary, Manu, Crichton, Radley, Taukeiaho and Tupou, they have a ton of talent to work with. Guys like Lindsay Collins and Tupouniua are forwards that are improving every game they play. And underrated guys like Liu get the job done.

Roosters season preview: Ladder prediction

6th

NRL season previews

Manly
Dragons
Bulldogs
Broncos
Knights

Storm
Souths
Warriors
Eels

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