Roosters v Storm: Five key points
Aubusson's strong showing, Ferguson's return imminent, Melbourne's Origin blues and a contrasting middle third. The key points from the Roosters' Round 12 win over the Storm.
Report: Roosters dominate Storm
Blake Ferguson shouldn't walk straight back in at right centre
But he probably will.
Despite being the Roosters' best on Monday night and having one of the games of his career, Mitch Aubusson will likely hand his jersey straight back to Blake Ferguson when the star centre returns from a foot injury.
As coach Trent Robinson singled out Aubusson for his brilliant game, he also, in the same breath, alluded to the fact his spot in the starting side is temporary.
"I thought Aubo [Aubusson] had a day at right centre, filling in there for Blake I guess," Robinson said. "You can put him in a few different positions but he created a few really good plays there tonight and Skidsy [Shaun Kenny-Dowall] finished off well."
The effective utility player had three tackle busts, two try assists and a try of his own in a polished all-round display. He doesn't deserve to have to immediately relinquish his jersey, but he probably will, given the talent Ferguson possesses.
"He's looking good," Robinson said of Ferguson. "We had a bit of a joke there he'd have to spend some time with Aubo during the week to get some tips on playing right centre."
Storm's non-rep players need to step up
"We've had two and half weeks off except for the Origin players and the three Origin players were our best players by a mile," Craig Bellamy said after the match.
And that fact was clearly evident by the on-field reaction of skipper Cameron Smith as his side let in a couple of soft tries down their left-side defence. Smith had to rally his troops and give them a rare talking to given the hiding the Storm were facing was unchartered territory. Their only similar display came in their post-Origin I match last year when they were held to nil by the Cowboys.
Considering their impressive effort to start the season Bellamy could have taken it easy on his men, but that is not his style, or the style of any coach that expects a premiership every single year.
"We were, to be quite honest, physically weak tonight and we were mentally weak and we got what we deserved," Bellamy said passionately.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is a beast through the middle
The outside backs always get the glory but Waerea-Hargreaves lays the platform for his try-scorers like no-one else. Not only is he extremely powerful through the middle, as evidenced by his 17 huge runs for 163 metres, but he has a huge engine and just keeps coming.
"He's been playing good footy," coach Robinson said. "He had a very good stint to start us off, him and Sammy Moa were both very good."
Waerea-Hargreaves's offloading skill was also on show against the Storm who failed to limit his ability to get the ball away even when they had three or four in the tackle against him.
Storm not strong enough in the middle
They have a forward pack full of star talent but at-times the Roosters pack made their Storm counterparts look weak on Monday night. Big men like Jesse Bromwich, who is one of the most highly regarded forwards in the game, were unable to step up and win the arm wrestle against the constant wave of Roosters muscle.
The Roosters showed on Monday night, that you can have all the footwork and passing in the middle of the field but there is no match for brute force.
Coach Craig Bellamy made reference to his side's lack of starch in the middle when describing why his charges found themselves on the back foot early.
"We were soft as butter the first ten, 20 minutes," he said.
"We still could have got ourselves in the game but we didn't.... I'm not quite sure why we would lack that sort of intensity."
Roosters hooker Jake Friend accepted that he was slightly surprised with the ease at which the Roosters found yards through the middle.
"I do think so," Friend said. "I think they played alright but our boys played really well."
Roosters flex premiership muscle
Any time you completely dominate a team of the calibre of the Melbourne Storm you prove to everyone that you are a genuine premiership force.
It would be easy to assume the Storm came out underdone on Monday night and the Roosters breezed to an easy victory. But that would be ignoring the fact that the Storm always show up. Especially with the likes of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Craig Bellamy at the helm, the Storm are not the reason the score-line ended 24-2.
The Roosters ripped the game away from Melbourne. They had the better of the middle of the park for the full 80 minutes and their intensity never subsided.
Asked if his team had been building to such a great all-round performance, Robinson replied: "I think we've been good since the rep round... I'm not sure where Melbourne were at tonight but I thought we were pretty good. I thought we probably had the defence against Canterbury very well, probably lacked the freshness we had tonight. It was our third performance in a row so we've gotta keep building... keep improving what we're doing."