Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has declared hooker Jake Friend and forward Sonny Bill Williams are “ready to go” in a bid to end Canberra’s season in Friday‘s blockbuster sudden-death semi-final.
In a huge boost for the Roosters heading into the grand final replay against the Raiders, Friend and Williams have overcome head knock and neck setbacks respectively.
Robinson understands the importance of having two experienced players fit for a sudden-death finals match.
“It is always key when you have senior players ready and combinations that you have had for a long time,” Robinson said.
“Both (players) are looking well, they trained well and they are focused and ready to play.
“You can’t rely on it, and you have to go out there and reproduce it again, but you want those players available.”
Robinson is particularly pleased to have Friend back in the side given his connection with the spine and solid defence in the middle of the field.
The Roosters missed the veteran hooker’s calmness and class in last week’s one-point loss to Penrith.
“There is (Jake’s) leadership, the consistency of combinations and there is the absolute selfless work that he does for others,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to having him back this week.”
"Our job is to respond on Friday" – Trent Robinson ?#EastsToWin #NRLFinals https://t.co/qpWoDiHPtf
Williams’ return is timely for the Roosters given the size of Canberra’s pack, led by Maroons and Kangaroos star Josh Papalii.
The former World Cup winning New Zealand All Black hasn’t been at his best since returning to the NRL from the Toronto Wolfpack, but his presence and experience alone is significant for the Tricolours.
Robinson refused to reveal how he will use Williams off the bench against the Raiders.
“We’ve got our plan; we know how we are going to use him, but I won’t go into that,” he said.
“We are very clear on how we want to play and that allows players to prepare during the week and know their role for the weekend.”
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is ready for a big game against Canberra’s pack, led by Maroons and Kangaroos enforcer Josh Papalii. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Robinson knows the Raiders possess a formidable forward pack, so he is expecting a response from the team’s forward leader Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
He believes Waerea-Hargreaves is ready to take his game to another level against Canberra’s big men.
“Jared is dialled in and focused,” he said.
“He is looking for more out of himself this week and there is only one way to answer that question and that is to play and perform.
“I’ve seen leadership from all of the group, but Jared leads in a certain way in the way that he trains.
“But I can talk about it for as long as I like, the delivery will be in Friday night.”
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