Roosters' brick-wall defence is back, says JWH
The Bondi Wall has copped a battering in recent weeks, but prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves says the Roosters' famed goal line defence is fast rediscovering the steel of 2013.
The Roosters may have conceded seven tries across the last fortnight against the Titans and the Dragons, a far cry from the miserly 2.2 they leaked on their way to the 2013 title, but the devil is in the detail when it comes to the premiers' recent defensive performances.
The Dragons, with 55 per cent of possession and a star-studded backline, threw everything but the red and white kitchen sink at them a fortnight ago, while the Tricolours kept the Titans scoreless for the second stanza of their dour 26-18 win on Monday night.
As the Roosters prepare for Saturday night's trip to the Tigers' suburban fortress of Leichhardt Oval, Waerea-Hargreaves says the Chooks will take plenty of confidence out of withstanding the Titans' second-half assault on their line, which at one point forced four consecutive line drop-outs from the premiers.
"It felt good, comfortable again," Waerea-Hargreaves said.
"As much as the Titans were throwing a lot at us, it was good to see how we dug deep and stuck to it.
"We focused on what we had to do there and showed our true colours in that second half when we were defending our line.
"A couple of times this year teams have scored after a few sets on our line, but it really gives that positivity and confidence when you pull through out of those situations. We painted a picture and showed that we can actually do it and we'll take a massive amount of confidence out of it."
Having managed to overcome a Titans outfit fuelled by the emotion of departing coach John Cartwright's final game in charge of the club, Waerea-Hargreaves says the Roosters must do the same against a Tigers side sure to be fired by recent off-field turmoil and a 64-6 thrashing last week at the hands of the Cowboys.
Led by NSW Origin prop Aaron Woods, the Tigers pack has this season made a habit of getting under the skin of the opposition's enforcers, finding success with the tactic early in the year in rattling the Rabbitohs' Burgess brothers.
As the most penalised player in the game and one of its most noted firebrands, Waerea-Hargreaves shapes as an obvious target should the Tigers adopt the same physical mindset, but the Kiwi prop said it will be business as usual for himself and the side as they look to solidify their spot in the top four.
"I'm just focusing on my job, if [a confrontation] comes, it comes," Waeara-Hargreaves said.
"We're preparing for everything, focusing on what we do and what we do well; playing our style of footy.
"We can't be getting distracted or getting by upset by anything the Tigers throw at us. We've got to go out to Leichhardt, which isn't easy, and get the job done."