Sonny Bill outweighs JW-H loss
If it was Sonny Bill Williams out suspended for the Roosters on top of Boyd Cordner already being unavailable for Saturday night's game against Manly, they would face a huge challenge.
But it is Jared Waerea-Hargreaves out suspended, and while he is a very good player Williams is an out-and-out superstar. The Roosters still face a challenge without him, but not one they aren't still a good chance of overcoming.
Waerea-Hargreaves and Williams are vastly different types of players who both do their particular jobs well.
Obviously, you would prefer to always go into a game with both players available, but if you had to choose between them there is only one possible choice you could make.
Waerea-Hargreaves is important to the cause. Williams is essential to it.
JW-H gets heavily involved in the physical aspects of the game. He is a powerful prop who constantly hits the ball up into the heart of the defence, but while he can bend the defence back or bust tackles, making clean line-breaks isn't his strength.
JW-H hasn't registered a line-break in his 19 games, while SBW has 21. Williams has scored eight tries, and Waerea-Hargreaves one.
Once again, this is just a comparison of two players who do different jobs – and each does his very well. The difference is that Williams is one of those rare match-winners, someone who can suddenly make a breakout move in a game that doesn't look to have any holes in it.
It was Williams who put the Roosters on the road to victory over South Sydney in the final round.
One of Waerea-Hargreaves' great strengths is his ability to get good passes away in tackles. He is credited with 28 offloads this season. But it is also one of Williams' greatest strengths – he has a sensational 54 offloads.
The key difference between the two players comes in the error count. Williams has made a lot more of them – 19, compared to eight for Waerea-Hargreaves – but there is an explanation coming and unless you're not watching the games you will already know what it is.
Williams' freakish skill is such that he naturally takes more risks with the ball in his hands, which obviously increases the possibility of errors.
And since second-rower Williams is an 80-minute player most weeks, he has more time to make errors – as well as more time to do something special.
SBW, the supreme athlete, has played for the full 80 minutes 15 times this season.
JW-H usually plays for between 40 and 60 minutes per game, which is quite a good return for a big man like him. He has played for less than 40 minutes twice and more than 60 minutes once.
The Round 24 game between the Roosters and Cronulla was a great example of how both JW-H and SBW are important to the team, but it also gave a great indication of why SBW is more important.
The Roosters had become very used to winning going into that clash, but some issues had been developing within their game even while they were winning.
Sooner or later, an opposition team was going to shake them up, and it happened in that game.
The Sharks ambushed them, beginning very physically and getting straight on top. It took a long time for the Roosters to start matching the Sharks physically, but once that happened, it looked, for just a moment, like the Roosters could force an improbable win.
This was after the Sharks led 26-0 at halftime. The main reason the Roosters got back into the game with any semblance of a chance, before eventually losing 32-22, was because of the influence of Williams.
Waerea-Hargreaves kept trying hard on the night, like he always does, but it was Williams, mainly with his offloading ability, who registered the big threat.
The other Roosters forwards are each going to have to provide that bit extra to try to make up for the sheer physical presence of Waerea-Hargreaves not being there against the Sea Eagles. And that includes Williams, who is obviously pretty handy in the physical department as well.
But, honestly, who could make up for what Williams does if he was out?
It may seem unfair, on the face of it, to compare the influence of JWH- to the influence of SBW, but the truth is that is praise for Waerea-Hargreaves. There wouldn't be any point in comparing a lot of players to Williams.
Waerea-Hargreaves is a very good player who is among the best props in the competition. Williams is the best second-rower in the competition and pretty close to the best player overall. That’s why Manly still have the task ahead on Saturday evening.