Roosters captain Isabelle Kelly admittedly described their defeat to the Raiders as their “worst game to date.” Now they face a daunting task against a powerful St George Illawarra side, piloted by ex-Rooster halfback, Raecene McGregor.
Speaking ahead of Thursday night’s clash, Dragons coach Jamie Soward notes his admiration for McGregor, describing her as a playmaker unlike any other in the NRLW. The 2021 Dally M medallist’s incredible kicking prowess was instrumental in guiding the Dragons to their initial victory of the season.
“I haven’t seen another No.7 in NRLW kick the ball like that, and score tries like that,” stated Soward.
Despite enduring an inconsistent start to the season, the Roosters will have to strategise efficiently against a determined McGregor, who is projected to cause significant disruptions on the SCG. John Strange, the Roosters‘ coach, being well-versed with McGregor’s playing style due to his stint as her coach in 2021 – a year that saw the team clinch the premiership, anticipates an intense match against a formidable Dragons side.
Strange praised the Dragon’s previous performance against Parramatta, dismissing the off-season rumours about the departure of key players and emphasising the merit of the new additions to the team. He acknowledged, “They’re really quality, and I know that every game that we’ve played against them has been really tough.”
He further praised McGregor’s match-winning performance against the Eels, noting how well she organised the side and excelled in her kicks. Strange added, “She’s a good defender, so she’ll be out there trying her best.”
Touching on McGregor’s deadly precision, Strange recalled how her impeccable kicks set up two tries for winger and NRLW rookie Cortez Te Pou. He also noted the complexity of dealing with McGregor, stressing that too much focus on her kicking may leave the team vulnerable to her other strengths.
With forward players Amber Hall and Mya Hill-Moana indefinitely benched, along with potential injuries to centrestar Jess Sergis, pre-season forecasts had marked the Roosters as premiership front-runners. Yet their club’s fluctuating start and the need for strategic player management could present a unique chance to refocus.
Strangely enough, Strange views the current situation as a potential blessing in disguise. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Losing the players that we have… I think it’s going to be really good for us to build as a squad,” reflected Strange.
He added that the scenario could serve as an emotional anchor and character builder, fostering a sense of unity within the squad and presenting younger players with necessary early exposure. This, Strange believes, will work to the team’s advantage, getting them ready for the semi-finals.