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Preview 07: Sydney Roosters - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Mon, 05 Mar 2007 09:23:00 GMT
If coaching Cronulla was like walking on hot coals, then taking charge at the Roosters could be considered as challenging as scuba diving amongst Piranhas.

There is a lot for veteran coach Chris Anderson to reflect on before the boys from Bondi clash with South Sydney on March 19.

Chooks fans have been a rowdy mob in the last few seasons and for good reason.

They have not made the finals let alone come close to it since 2004 and finished 14th last year, their worst performance since 1994.

Pre-season injuries, suspensions to key players, lack of cohesion in the halves (since the retirement of Brad Fittler) and mid-season burn out have not rewarded the Roosters.

Big name recruits have not fired in the positions they were meant to kill the opposition in either while stringing together successive wins has become an arduous task.

Although Ricky Stuart came across as an intense but fair coach, Chris Anderson is expected to be a bit more laid back.

For opposition teams, it’s going to be difficult to gauge what style of tactics Anderson will produce on game day in the short-term.

He has not coached an NRL team since 2003, even taking up a role as head coach with Welsh rugby side, the Newport Gwent Dragons.

So will we see the return of the famous flat style of attack or has that been made obsolete, forcing Anderson to reinvent his training methods?

Anderson a few years ago admitted, “if your team is to succeed, you cannot afford to have any one of your 17 players heading out onto the field with the slightest doubt about their job in their mind.”

Given that Anderson has never taken over an NRL squad that missed the finals in the previous season, this gig is probably going to be one of his most challenging.

In that regard, he has got a job on his hands. Last season was about injecting more confidence into the halves. This failed to transpire.

Then five-eighth Braith Anasta struggled with his form on top of a groin injury while the number 7 merry-go-round saw Jamie Soward, Brett Finch and Josh Lewis all take a turn.

Good mental techniques and systems will therefore need to be in place because as all good coaches know a form slump is a product of the mind and there were too many ‘slumps’ in 2006.

Chris Anderson has yet to make up his mind about who will be the starting halfback in round 1. All contenders for the number 7 jersey are “pushing strongly.”

That dilemma should be answered quite simply by which player picks most of the right options in attack and who can communicate best between the forwards and the backs.

Either way, the halves combination is going to take some time to develop as it will at other clubs like Parramatta and the Wests Tigers.

Will it take too much time however for Anderson to get the club back into the finals in it’s 100th season?

In the forwards department, the Roosters have recruited well in the form of Danny Nutley and Nate Myles along with an experienced head in Chris Beattie.

All are hard workers who won’t be pushed over easily in defence.

But without Adrian Morley, the intimidation may not be as openly revered by other squads. That’s where Morley was priceless. The discomfort at knowing he was nearby was a handy mind game.

Who will become the Roosters next big enforcer? There will be no shortage of volunteers but in the end it all comes down to who can pull it off.

Charlie Tonga is a man of sacrifice. Last year the former bouncer stood down from first grade appearances to help the Roosters lower grade side (Newtown) make it all the way to the Grand Final.

If he turns up the volume this season and raises the aggression levels, he could stay out of the lower grades for a very long time.

He’s only played four first grade games in the last two-seasons. An extremely difficult player to stop with the ball and a consummate defender, he is overdue for a big year.

If the Roosters do opt for Mitchell Pearce as their starting number 7, Anderson may also need to work out which props are best equipped to give Pearce that little bit of extra protection.

Because there are so many new faces in key positions and based on last year’s results, selections are going to be harder to make in 2007.

On the wing, John Williams – a member of the Eels premier league side which won back to back titles in 2005 and 2006 - is another attacking ace up Chris Anderson’s sleeve.

Williams – who was the highest pointscorer (110) and tryscorer (15) for Parramatta last season – has already scored 1 try in 2007 and it’s expected there are more to come.

Reliable, fast and proficient at finishing off plays on the last tackle, Williams is a future first grader with plenty of ability and the right physical size in his running game to intimidate the opposition defence in the same mould as Eric Grothe.

It will be an absolute injustice worthy of being reported to the United Nations if this man does not start on the wing in round 1.

The return of Joel Monoghan from a season ending injury suffered in the trials last year is also of some comfort.

Talk is he’ll start the new season in the centres and based on his 90 metre try on the weekend, the Roosters probably can’t wait to get him back on the field.

Ashley Harrison – who was injured in a game against Parramatta last season – may still be a while off from returning. That takes a lot of points out of the attack.

However with Minichello, Monoghan and the Roosters highest tryscorer from 2005, Amos Roberts still available, this team is going to be dangerous all over the park.

Anthony Minichello makes his return but a big cloud is hanging over his fitness. So far so good from what we’ve seen in the trials.

There are so many quality individuals at Anderson’s disposal, the Roosters right now should be the envy of the League. That of course will be their goal in 2007.

Manly love to be hated, the roosters enjoy being envied. With greater consistency, confidence and control, that goal is achievable.

Coach: Chris Anderson
CEO: Brian Canavan
Predicted Finish: 9th

Gains: Nate Myles (Bulldogs), Danny Nutley (Castleford), Chris Beattie (Catalans), George Ndaira (Dragons), John Williams (Eels), Willie Brown (Cabramatta).

Losses: Ryan Cross (Western Force), Adrian Morley (Warrington), Brett Finch (Eels), Mark Edmonson (Salford), Lelea Paea (Titans), Aidan Kirk (Warriors), Glenn Hall (Sea Eagles)

roosters: Braith Anasta, Chris Beattie, Chris Flannery, Ashley Harrison, Heath L’Estrange, Josh Lewis, Anthony Minichello, Joel Monoghan, Nate Myles, Danny Nutley, Lopini Paea, Mickey Paea, Mitchell Pearce, Sam Perrett, Nigel Plum, Amos Roberts, Shane Shackleton, David Shillington, Iosia, Soliola, Jamie Soward, Charles Tonga, Anthony Tupou, John Williams, Craig Wing - Read More, Here