With their season hanging by a thread, Sydney Roosters‘ coach, Trent Robinson, has moved swiftly to back his coaching staff as nerves fray ahead of their make-or-break clash against Manly at the SCG on Thursday night. An unfavourable result against the Sea Eagles, who currently sit 10th in the ladder, could see the Roosters miss their only second finals in the past 11 seasons, prompting a consequential overhaul of their playing roster.
The Roosters have already made moves for next season, signing the strong Newcastle winger Dominic Young and hard-charging Penrith front-rower Spencer Leniu. However, those in control at Roosters HQ have proven previously that they won’t shy away from making tough and strategic decisions intended to preserve the club’s powerful reputation.
The Roosters have only had comparable struggles in their 2009 (16th) and 2016 (15th) campaigns, causing significant off-season action within club ranks.
Under intensifying scrutiny, Robinson found himself defending Cooper Cronk, his halves consultant, last Wednesday. This followed reports suggesting that the former halfback was under threat of losing his job due to the team’s under-par performance this season.
Robinson clarified, “All my staff who are with us this season will remain with us next season. That is very clear.”
Having started the season as Premiership contenders, the Roosters are now given a slim $151 chance by the TAB to seize the title – their longest odds since their 2016 struggles.
Despite boasting a bevy of elite players, including James Tedesco, Joey Manu, Luke Keary, Brandon Smith, and Lindsay Collins, the Roosters have struggled in attack, and their scoring record is at its lowest since the woeful 2009 season.
With high-profile recruit Joseph Suaalii in the team, alongside heavyweights Manu, Keary, and Tedesco, the Roosters are still recording under three tries per game for only the second time in a quarter-century.
Robinson is fully aware of the do-or-die situation that his team find themselves in.
Reiterating this, he stated, “Starting strong and executing the game plan right from the start is crucial for us now.”
The return of Sam Walker, after a knee injury, is some comfort for the team, even if it is likely to be a little too late to change their fortunes.
The results of recent tests on Walker’s knee have been encouraging. Robinson said this about Walker’s recovery timeline: “The plan is to get him back into full training over the next few weeks and then get him back onto the field.”
Robinson has had to dismiss rumours about possible changes in the coaching staff that includes Cooper Cronk and possibly Matt King in light of their dismal performance. However, he reaffirmed that no changes would be made and that the staff for this year would be retained for the next.
Robinson also said that Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner, who have been linked to senior roles in 2024, are yet to decide on their future roles. “Jake isn’t even sure if he wants to be an assistant or not, those discussions are ongoing,” said Robinson.
Despite the mounting pressure and uncertainty, the storyline for Sam Walker continues to provide some light. While hampered by a knee injury, the young halfback’s recovery updates are highly anticipated, but when he’ll return to the field remains unclear. “The goal is to increase his training to get him back,” said Robinson.