In a significant setback for the Roosters, Coach Trent Robinson confirmed that Joseph Manu will not participate in the crucial final-round clash against South Sydney. Manu suffered a hamstring injury in last week’s match-up against the Tigers.
With the Roosters fighting for a spot in the finals, this comes as a heavy blow particularly as they’re already depleted without enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, suspended for seven matches following a judiciary decision.
Robinson admitted that there were hopes earlier during the week that Manu might recover in time; however, the final decision was made on Wednesday. Robinson revealed, “He ran the other day, but I don’t think he’ll get there; it’s too short.”
After Manu’s injury during the game, concerns were apparent. Robinson continued, “As soon as you come off with a hammy injury it’s unlikely you’re going to get through and get into the game there. He won’t play.”
The coach further expressed his appreciation for the medical team who held out hope for Manu’s recovery, even if it was only a slim chance. “They said ‘look, name him, we’ll do what we can to see if we can get him through’. But not enough to get through to the game.”
With Manu sidelined, Corey Allan and Billy Smith will lead in the centres. A silver lining for the Roosters is the return of skipper James Tedesco, who missed last week’s game due to the NRL‘s stand-down protocols around concussion.
The Coach underscored the monumental importance of the impending clash. But, Robinson rationalised, the adversarial team was irrelevant, as every match is critical in its own right. He said, “Winner-takes-all there is pretty clear. The prize has been pretty clear for us for a month – to keep winning, play our best footy [regardless of] whoever was in front of us.”
The loss of Waerea-Hargreaves frustrates the Roosters, especially with the looming season finale. An obviously disappointed Robinson acknowledges the significant impact on the collective morale of the team, “We’re all fighting for something, and for him not to be there to be a part of that is disappointing.”
Despite recent setbacks, Robinson squashed suggestions surrounding any supposed necessary caution in the team’s on-field behaviour to prevent further suspensions. He confidently stated, “There’s no risk. There’s only reward. There’s no holding back as far as the way that you want to play. The reward is sitting right there.”