Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has expressed his frustration and disappointment over the seven-week suspension of prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. Robinson, who has been a staunch defender of Waerea-Hargreaves in the past, admits to feeling angry at the veteran player for his actions that led to the suspension. This comes as another blow for the Roosters, who are already without Waerea-Hargreaves and now Joey Manu, ruled out with a hamstring injury, for their upcoming crucial match. The coach confirmed that Corey Allan will replace Manu and James Tedesco will return from concussion at fullback.
The Roosters are particularly frustrated with Waerea-Hargreaves’ situation as the incident occurred in a game that was already won. The prop was suspended for a late and high hit on Apisai Koroisau and subsequent headbutt of Stefano Utoikamanu during a melee. This means that the Roosters will be without their most experienced player for their final-round clash against rivals, the Rabbitohs. Both teams need a win to keep their season alive. Additionally, depending on how far the Roosters progress in the finals and if end-of-year representative fixtures count, the ban could extend into next year.
Robinson has expressed his disappointment in Waerea-Hargreaves, stating that while he still cares for him, the situation has left him angry. He explains that as the representative of the club, it is natural to feel this way when a player is absent in such an important game. Robinson acknowledges that he has given the forward space this week, but plans to have a serious discussion with the 34-year-old soon. The coach believes that this suspension must be a turning point for Waerea-Hargreaves, who has faced six charges in the past year in both NRL and international rugby league.
With their season on the line, the Roosters will need to defeat the Rabbitohs and hope for losses from either the North Queensland Cowboys or the Canberra Raiders to qualify for the finals. Robinson commends his team for playing their best football of the year and remains optimistic about having Manu back for the elimination final if they qualify. Manu has been progressing well in his recovery from a hamstring injury, as he recently participated in AlterG training.
The seven-week ban serves as a significant blow to the Roosters, as they rely on Waerea-Hargreaves’ intimidating presence on the field. Robinson emphasizes that this suspension, which amounts to a quarter of the season, should act as a line-in-the-sand moment for the prop. He suggests that the incident was unnecessary and not one of those moments where intimidation was warranted. The coach hopes that the suspension will lead to a change in behavior and a reevaluation of how Waerea-Hargreaves uses his physicality on the field.