Titans challenged to match Roosters' physicality
Save for their premiership-winning halves Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary, the Roosters will roll out a monster squad in their Round 1 Telstra Premiership clash on the Gold Coast and Titans coach Neil Henry has urged his players to meet the challenge head-on.
At a time of year when possession and momentum dictate winners and losers more so than absolute skill, winning the middle third becomes the most critical aspect of the game.
Attacking sets will take time to find fluidity and defensive structures are at their most susceptible so the team that can play on the front foot in the first month will often claim the premiership points.
The Titans have a new front-row combination with Jarrod Wallace joining Ryan James, while Nathaniel Peteru and Agnatius Paasi will spend time in the middle off the bench.
The Roosters on the other hand have Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Dylan Napa with Kane Evans as their back-up off the bench yet have size also out wide in centres Latrell Mitchell and Blake Ferguson.
Wherever the Titans look there are giant Roosters to wrangle and Henry said the formula to combat it is simple in theory yet often more difficult in execution.
"It's obvious that all the combinations are not going to be there with our attack and maybe our defensive structures are going to be tested but the key is controlling possession. It's easy to say but hard to do sometimes," Henry said ahead of the season-opener.
"That's early-season footy, it's going to take a while to settle in. We can't afford to turn over the ball against a big, powerful team like the Roosters with a good forward pack and big outside backs.
"They are a real physical side. Hargreaves, Napa and Evans and Isaac Liu play that style of game.
"They're a physical team and they're dangerous carrying the ball out of their own end with their big outside backs.
"[Michael] Gordon's at the back and he's got good footwork but both wingers have a strong carry and they've got big centres in Latrell Mitchell and Blake Ferguson.
"We really need to be able to stop their momentum when they're coming off their own line on the back of our kicks and that's a real test for us because the Warriors rolled down the field fairly easily in our trial against them."
Although he has captained the team in the past, James will lead the team onto Cbus Super Stadium officially for the first time on Saturday night and knows he needs to lead from the front if they are to start on the right note, which might entail playing longer minutes.
"It's going to be a good test for us but we might have to push out a couple more minutes than we usually do," James said of the role he and Wallace will be asked to play.
"They're a great forward pack. They're all pretty much international players or up and coming Origin and international players so we've got a big job.
"But we've got 'KP' [Kevin Proctor] and Chris McQueen and Vaha [Pulu] there in the middle who has played nearly every game last year and is coming off a great season."
Despite finishing 15th last season the Roosters are proving to be very popular amongst pre-season pundits making premiership predictions and Henry is expecting an immediate bounce-back from a team that won three consecutive minor premierships from 2013-2015.
"They'll be looking to start their season on the right foot," Henry said.
"There's been a lot of hype around them from last year and looking to go up the ladder and play finals footy and they've certainly recruited well."