Structure, not instinct, to stop Johnson: Friend

Sydney Roosters captain Jake Friend says his team will rely on their defensive structure to combat fleet-footed Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson this weekend, rather than watch copious amounts of video to forecast what he'll do next.

Johnson tore the Storm apart last Sunday afternoon thanks greatly to his unpredictability – where he produced a try, a try assist, eight tackle breaks and two line breaks.

Well aware of Johnson's feats against Melbourne, Friend said every one of his Roosters teammates will have to be switched if they are to lessen the impact of the reigning Golden Boot winner.

"You can't really [stop their unpredictability by studying video] we'll just have to make sure we have our defensive structure set. If everyone's doing the right thing then hopefully what they're doing won't affect us, but it definitely makes it tough because you can't really do video on [Shaun Johnson]," Friend said.

"You can try and say he might do this or that but you never really know so you just have to be on your toes for 80 minutes. If you have your principles in mind and everyone is working hard together and scrambling then you can do your best to save tries."

 

Working in the Roosters favour however, against a Warriors team who are currently in the top four for the first time since Round 24, 2011, is their impeccable defence.

While Friend wouldn't buy into the comparisons with the Roosters premiership-winning team of 2013 – despite having much of the same side – it's hard to deny the similarities. 

Having only conceded 204 points over 16 games this year (12.75 points per game) the Roosters are the best defensive team in the Telstra Premiership. 

Back in 2013, they were also the best defensive team, conceding just 197 points at the very same time of the year.

With the Origin period now behind them – and their four representatives Mitchell Pearce, Boyd Cordner, Aidan Guerra and Michael Jennings all coming through unscathed – Friend was buoyed by his team's recent performances with the Tricolours winning their past four straight despite being nowhere near their best.  

"It was pleasing to go out to Penrith and come away with the win, especially after the bye so everyone has been really happy," Friend said.

"It'll be good to get the Origin boys back in and start playing with a full squad week-in, week-out so we have plenty to look forward to as we approach the back-end of the season.

"We want to improve in attack and defence so there is plenty to work on before the finals. It'll be good to have the whole squad back to do that and get them back into training as well look to better ourselves and get a good run into the finals."