Bondi's biggest ready to battle the Bunnies
Replacing injured forwards Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was never going to be an easy task, but fellow enforcer Sam Moa believes his younger teammates are ready to step up when the Roosters open their NRL season against the Rabbitohs on Sunday afternoon.
After coming off the bench for the NRL All Stars, and then earning man-of-the-match honours in the Roosters' comprehensive 28-12 win over St Helens in the World Club Series, Kane Evans looks primed for a huge 2016 for the Tricolours.
After debuting in 2014, the front-rower enjoyed a breakthrough season last year, playing in all but one of his side's games.
Despite only playing more than 40 minutes twice in 2015, Evans still had six games where he ran for over 100 metres, and with Waerea-Hargreaves expected to miss at least the first five rounds of the season, Moa expects his 199cm teammate to take his game to even greater heights in 2016.
"You can't replace Jared, but it's up to all of us to add our two bob to try to make up for his loss," Moa said.
"He [Evans] is an extremely aggressive young player and there's a lot of size about him. It's going to be good for his development to step into that role, and we're excited to play with each other."
While Evans and Dylan Napa are expected to do the heavy lifting in the early stages, it's fellow interchange player Vincent Leuluai who has Moa really excited.
The hard-running 20-year-old was one of the Roosters' best in the Holden Cup last year, running for 2260 metres in 18 matches.
His form in the NYC, coupled with a committed pre-season were enough for coach Trent Robinson to pick him for the trip to the UK, where the boom rookie held his own against physical English opposition.
As one of the senior members of the forward pack, Moa has taken it upon himself to mentor the Minto Cobras junior ahead of his NRL debut on the weekend.
"He's a brute of a young man. He's a man child. We've been trying to guide him a bit, and he's very keen to learn. He has a got a good set of ears on him, so it's going to be good," Moa said of his rookie teammate.
Fellow Rooster Aiden Guerra was equally impressed by the work shown by Leuluai in the pre-season, and believes the next few weeks will be crucial for his development as an NRL player.
"He's a good carrier of the ball. He's very strong in the gym and he plays with a high tempo," Guerra said.
"I think he'll be more of a middle player. He's pretty solid in there and he knows what the role is. He's obviously got some experience to gain and there's no better way than to start with an NRL debut against the Bunnies."