The Roosters shrugged off the losses of several key players to record a resounding win over Manly at Brookvale Oval on Friday night and part of the reason they were able to recover from the season-ending ACL injury to Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – the form prop of the competition leading up to his injury – was the return of New Zealand international Sam Moa.
Moa recently told NRL.com he'd be good for some "long stints" once he got back on the park due to the extra running club trainers were putting him through as he recovered from a dislocated wrist.
But there's no fitness like match fitness and Moa confessed after the game to hitting a wall, paying tribute to the runaway try-scoring feats of wingers Brendan Elliott and Daniel Tupou for granting him a few breathers during the game.
"I was a bit gassed to be honest, I was sucking in the big ones but luckily I saw Daniel Tupou break through for a couple of long range tries and so did Brendan Elliott so I was able to recuperate and go again," Moa said.
"Jared's a big loss and we can't replace Jared but a lot of the younger boys really stood up tonight and that's what we're going to have to do, everyone's going to have to up their game by 10 per cent and contribute more for Jared's loss."
In a mark of the depth of coach Trent Robinson's squad, former Warriors prop Suaia Matagi was another player they could call upon and he also had an impressive game making a big impact off the bench.
Utility Mitch Aubusson slotted into centre in the absence of the suspended Michael Jennings while Elliott goes from strength to strength in the absence of Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
"Our outside backs, to cover for the loss of Michael Jennings, we have an exceptional player there at No.1 [in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck], he's a phenomenal player, even better bloke and he's only going to get better," Moa said.
"He's by far the most exciting player to watch, let alone play with, in the entire comp."
With a third-straight minor premiership now within touching distance, Moa reiterated his coach's view that the regular-season prizes aren't of interest to the Roosters, it's the one handed out after the Grand Final that is the only one they're eyeing off.
"We're after the big premiership. We don't really care about the minor premiership to be honest, what we care about is being there in the first week of October, that's what matters to us. We've still got four or five weeks before that and we have to play at the top of our game every single week," he said.
He added the Manly game was a good step in the right direction after some inconsistent performances in recent weeks.
"Our execution was very good tonight, we iced a few tries that in past weeks we've stuffed up so that was very pleasing," he said.