Bondi Boys ready for old Rooster Roger
A desperate Roosters outfit knows there are more threats in a resurgent Warriors outfit than just their old teammate Roger Tuivasa-Sheck but have nevertheless vowed to be ready for whatever the twinkle-toed Kiwi fullback comes up with at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday.
Although Tuivasa-Sheck's 'homecoming' won't be to his old regular home ground of Allianz Stadium, he has publicly said it will be a big game for him against his old club.
Roosters halfback Jackson Hastings told NRL.com that while there hadn't been a lot made within the playing group about Tuivasa-Sheck's return, he also conceded it would be an interesting experience playing opposite the prolific custodian for a change.
"None of us have really played him before; we've seen what a wonderful player he's become and it's going to be a very big challenge for us and we definitely need to be on our toes because we don't want to let him get his twinkle toes happening," Hastings said.
"It will be interesting and it will be good to actually play him."
In-form winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall – one of his side's best performers through their shock 0-4 start to the year – said the Roosters knew exactly what to expect from Tuivasa-Sheck having seen it up close over several years.
"He gives it 100 per cent every game and he'll be up around 20 carries and 200 metres so that's definitely something we have to nullify and the footwork that he has," Kenny-Dowall said.
"It's important for us to kick to good positions and have a great kick-chase because we know what he's capable of and we're looking forward to playing against him for the first time.
"They're coming off a great win [against Newcastle] last week and they'll be full of confidence and looking for another great performance. That's something we're aware of and looking forward to the challenge."
The veteran of 17 Tests for the Kiwis said he hadn't really spoken to Tuivasa-Sheck about the contest yet but was looking forward to catching up after the game was done and dusted.
"He's a great player and we all love playing with him and it's going to be very interesting playing against him for the first time," Kenny-Dowall added.
Hard-working lock Sio Siua Taukeiaho – a graduate of the Warriors system who has flourished since his move to Bondi – said games against his old club were always a big event for him, but would have added spice this time with Tuivasa-Sheck in the line-up.
"Yeah I'm always excited to play against the Warriors, my old team. And also playing against old team-mates that I played alongside of and also the old Rooster Roger!" Taukeiaho laughed.
"So I'm pretty excited to go up against them this Sunday.
"We'll be excited to see him and play against him, all the boys are looking forward to it. He's a good player with good footwork but it's not just one person we're looking at – it's the whole team. Obviously they had a great win last week so we'll have to perform well this Sunday.
"You know when Roger's on his game he's really hard to stop, he can set up a lot of tries and also score them. We'll have to get a good kick in and hopefully not give him too much space because when he does get that space he's so hard to stop.
"I think it will be a good battle in the middle with Ben Matulino and Jacob Lillyman leading them from the front while we have Sam Moa and Dylan Napa to go up against them. They have a good backline as well so it will be a good challenge for us."
The Warriors finally started to look like the team many thought they would be in 2016 in a rampant second half against the Knights last week and Hastings said he saw parallels between both the Roosters and Warriors, who had each had a slow start to the year as they looked to build new combinations.
"I think they're a bit like us with the new combinations, they understood it was always going to take some time," Hastings said.
"They hit their straps in that second half, they were really impressive, I was watching that game and they were all really good but you never know with the Warriors when's a good time and a bad time.
"You just have to be on your toes no matter when you play them and this weekend's going to be no different, we're going to have to be at our best to beat them and be wary of all their players, not only one."