It’s the statistic that has ruffled the feathers of the Roosters big men: not one of the Roosters forwards ran for more than 100 metres against the Rabbitohs pack in their disheartening season-opening loss as wave after wave of red and green ran over the top of them.
The defending premiers found themselves pounded into submission by the likes of Sam and George Burgess, Chris McQueen and Ben Te'o, and were so stung by the 28-8 loss that their forward pack met immediately after the match, vowing not to be out-muscled again in tonight's showdown with first-up winners Parramatta at Allianz Stadium.
“We got together pretty much straight after the game in the sheds, and at training we’ve done a lot of work with [assistant coach] Craig Fitzgibbon and noticed the areas we were lacking in through the middle of the field,” starting prop Sam Moa told NRL.com.
"It goes without saying that the important guys in our team are our halves and they couldn’t get their game on last week because us middles didn’t get our job done.”
The task of laying a platform for Origin halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney to weave their magic won’t be made any easier by the loss of the dynamic Sonny Bill Williams, whose 63 offloads and 14 line break assists were crucial in getting the Roosters over the advantage line last season.
But while admitting the three-match suspension handed to Williams for his shoulder charge on George Burgess was a big blow, Moa was confident he and fellow hard nuts Jared Warea-Hargreaves, Boyd Cordner and Frank-Paul Nuuasala can lift in the club’s first home game of the season at Allianz Stadium.
“It is a big loss for us obviously having Sonny out but we’ve got a lot of good depth at the club and it’s going to hold us in good stead,” Moa said.
“While Sonny’s out and we’ll miss him it’s going to give another guy an opportunity.”
The Roosters won the three games Williams missed last year through suspension and injury, and will take plenty of confidence out of the 40-0 and 42-6 results against the Sharks and Panthers respectively without the star back-rower.
Whereas fellow senior forward Nuuausala described Williams’ suspension as “harsh”, Moa revealed coach Trent Robinson had issued a strict edict that his players ensure they use their arms in all tackles.
“That was the message from the start when we heard about the new rules, but there are times where you find yourself in unfortunate circumstances," he said.
"You might be shoulder to shoulder with a bloke and then it may seem like a shoulder charge but it’s actually a legitimate tackle. It’s just something we’ve had to work on and going forward now I think you’ll see a lot more conventional tackling.”