This year could very much be a transitional year for Sydney Roosters. Cooper Cronk has retired and the club has brought in Kyle Flanagan from Cronulla Sharks.
Flanagan is still young with not too many NRL games under his belt but is a project for Trent Robinson. He will be helped by fellow half-back Luke Keary who is an established NRL star and of course James Tedesco at fullback who was the best player in the competition last year.
This year also could be Ryan Hall’s year to make an impact. Last year was ruined by an early season injury from which he never really recovered. A few appearances followed injury but the NRL certainly didn’t see the best of the England international.
The loss of Latrell Mitchell is huge and there is a big hole in the Roosters’ side now. Brett Morris is perhaps the option to fill it as things stand.
The forwards are still very strong for the reigning champions. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sio Siua Taukeiaho have been at the top of their game for years now and in New South Wales captain Boyd Cordner in the back row, they probably still have the best pack on paper in the competition.
Mitchell Aubusson still has utility value and could also be an option for the centre position while players like Nat Butcher, Victor Radley and Isaac Liu are all now established NRL talents that can be called upon to fill in various positions in the forwards.
Coach: Trent Robinson
Another familiar face for Super League supporters, Trent Robinson (above) learned his trade with Catalans Dragons in both 2011 and 2012 before he joined Sydney Roosters for 2013.
Since his appointment, the Roosters have had a pretty dominant period of success alongside Melbourne Storm.
Robinson won the Grand Final with Sydney in his rookie season as a coach in 2013 before leading the Roosters to minor Premierships in 2014, 2015 and 2018.
The Roosters have won the last two Grand Finals with wins over the Storm and Canberra Raiders.
Star Player: James Tedesco
Despite intense competition, James Tedesco (pictured, top) has made the Australian fullback position his own since the retirement of Billy Slater.
He started his career with Wests Tigers in 2012 and made 90 appearances in the NRL before joining Sydney Roosters for 2018.
In both his years with Sydney, he’s won the Grand Final and was named as the Dally M Medal winner for 2019.
Tedesco has also played major roles in both of New South Wales’ series wins in the last two years.
Rugby League World Predicts: 4th
First published in Rugby League World, Issue 467 (March 2020)