Sydney Roosters started their season with a bang, leaving St Helens sore and sorry in their 38-12 victory. Putting the NRL up one-nil in the World Club Series, it was Jayden Nikorima who led the way in his first ever appearance as a Rooster.
Roosters win highlights class gulf
Don't be fooled by the Roosters performance – St Helens were woeful.
Following the Saints' last start 34 point loss to perennial Super League cellar-dwellers Salford City Reds – a team who has finished in the bottom four of the Super League in seven of the past eight seasons – Saints halfback Luke Walsh said "they would lose by 80" to the Roosters if they didn't shape up.
While the score didn't blow out to such an extent, St Helens' defence was lazy more than anything with the 2014 premiers having no answers to young whippets Nikorima and Jackson Hasting especially, in the 26-point loss.
Channel Nine commentator and eighth rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns summed it up best when analysing the game.
"St Helens were disappointing. You can see the gap between the NRL and the Super League teams. The Roosters look very strong but it's hard to get a read on [on their performance] because St Helens have been so poor recently," Johns said on Nine's coverage.
"It's hard to get a gauge on how good a win it was considering the class difference."
Promising signs for Roosters spine
While it remains to be seen if Blake Ferguson has a future at fullback with the usual centre putting in a mixed performance, the combination of those in jerseys 6, 7 and 9 looked promising.
With Nikorima having a hand in five of the Roosters seven tries it was Hastings who offered him such space to shine – with the halfback still able to directly assist in three tries himself.
Off-season concerns over goal kicking were allayed by Hastings as well after a nervous start – with both halves leaving NRL Fantasy coaches excited by what's to come.
"Going away with the senior players in their camp at Dubai would have given their young halves a lot confidence," Johns said of the duo.
"They didn't treat St Helens as a jolly. They had their heads on and were very impressive."
Going solo as captain with regular Roosters co-captain Mitchell Pearce currently stood down, hooker Jake Friend produced a typical performance in the middle of the paddock (33 tackles, no misses).
Forwards stand up without Waerea-Hargreaves, Cordner
Reportedly without key forwards Boyd Cordner (pectoral) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (ACL) for the first 10 weeks of the season, questions have already been asked of the Roosters' forward pack.
St Helens weren't the best reflection of the Roosters' pack's performance as the Saints forwards appeared out of the depth from the get-go. Special mention though to Kyle Amor who stood up for the home side once he got onto the field midway through the first half.
Kane Evans' man of the match performance would have warmed coach Trent Robinson's heart, with his decision to start the young Fijian over Sam Moa proving beneficial.
Outside of Evans, fellow forwards Dylan Napa, Aidan Guerra and Isaac Liu all broke the 100-metres gained mark in a pre-season confidence boost, with the latter Liu pushing hard for a starting spot for the Roosters' season-opener against the Rabbitohs.