The nib Newcastle Knights are riding high after back-to-back wins, but can they make it three in a row?
We delved into enemy territory this week to see what’s been said and what’s happening in the Roosters camp ahead of their Round 3 clash.
While there’s clear focus on the match-ups of Mitchell Pearce v Cooper Cronk and Kalyn Ponga v James Tedesco, keen eyes will notice Roosters debutant Reece Robinson taking over from the injured Daniel Tupou (pectoral injury).
Dylan Napa has also been named to start, with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves benched, and Mitchell Aubusson returning to the interchange after a nasty head injury last week.
Praise has come from Roosters assistant coach Craig Fitzgibbon, who has recognised the dramatic shift in Newcastle’s attacking ability this season, with individual recognition for Pearce and Ponga.
“Defensively we will be tested,” Fitzgibbon mentioned on the Roosters website.
“There is some excitement with Ponga at fullback, and Junior (Mitchell Pearce) is steering them around the park quite well…but we hope to make it uncomfortable for them come this weekend, and we will have to be strong defensively to control them.”
Fitzgibbon believes a mix of strong communication, combination plays and consistent execution will be the key to the Roosters taking home a win this weekend.
Meanwhile, the big men of the Roosters forward pack are predicted to throw their weight around early in the match.
Though, the Knights are expected to be equally strong with enforcers Herman Ese’ese and Jacob Lillyman to contest the arm wrestle in the middle.
Roosters hooker Jake Friend has also applauded the Knights for their performances thus far.
“I’ve watched them the last two weeks and they’ve played really well,” Friend said.
“It’ll be a good challenge for us, and we’re really looking forward to it.
“Pearce has played really well, and so too has the Newcastle side.
“Those boys will be pumping the rest of the team up to come down here and do a job on us.”
Friend played down the Pearce v Cronk rivalry, instead saying that the team is focused on performing well this Sunday.
“Pearce is up there, Cronk is down here…all that stuff is done now, our squad has taken shape for the year and now it’s about us going and doing what we can with it,” he said.