Roosters coach Trent Robinson is frustrated his team hasn't been able to cope better without star trio Boyd Cordner, Mitchell Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves but he doesn't want them pressured by the Tricolours' losing ways.
The Roosters' 20-16 loss to the Penrith Panthers on Monday night in wet conditions was their sixth defeat in seven games this season, all six losses coming without the representative trio.
All three are expected to return over the next fortnight with Cordner (pectoral) the likeliest to play the Dragons in the annual Anzac Day clash.
"The frustrating thing – it sounds like it should be the good thing – but it's frustrating because we want to be winning without those guys. We don't want to rely on them," Robinson said post-game.
"They shouldn't walk back in and feel that pressure. We should be the ones getting the job done before they come back."
Coincidentally it was former Rooster Jamie Soward who provided the impetus for Penrith's win thanks primarily to his kicking game.
Robinson agreed Soward's kicking was the difference on Monday night, particularly when compared with the last-play options provided by the Roosters' inexperienced halves.
"The end of sets for us were costly. We didn't put them in tough positions. We let them off the hook there and then Soward put us in some really tough positions to close his game out with his kicking," Robinson said.
"I thought there were a huge amount of effort areas there that we worked hard for but we had to work hard from our 10-metre line. We had to fight right from there and they were coming off their 20/25-metre line.
"We couldn't get them into good enough positions and it cost us. If you're going to let 20 points in then you better execute. As soon as you let 20 points in, you have to make sure you execute your opportunities in the wet. We're off the pace at the moment."
Skipper Jake Friend refused to write off the Roosters' finals hope despite taking home a mere two competition points from the 14 on offer so far in 2016.
"We're not writing our season off," Friend said. "It's not where we want to be but we're working hard for each other and I think if we can get that little bit of class on the end we'll go on a run. A run that we need to go on now I guess."
Robinson added: "One from seven is not good. It's not good at all. The hard parts of the game we're doing well, the classy bits to get into good positions though we're not so good."