Cordner backs 'inspirational' JWH to step up
Roosters pack leader Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is set to renew his fiery battle with Brisbane's Sam Thaiday and his teammate Boyd Cordner reckons a fit-again Waerea-Hargreaves can lift further in the absence of injured prop Dylan Napa.
The Roosters struggled without Waerea-Hargreaves' strong carries in the opening eight rounds of 2016 while he was recovering from an ACL reconstruction but the Kiwi firebrand has hit the ground running this year.
With Napa (ankle) set to be sidelined for around four weeks, Cordner has backed Waerea-Hargreaves to continue to inspire his fellow forwards.
"He likes that responsibility – he's been probably the leader of our pack for years now," Cordner said.
"He's getting older and it's another year on from his knee injury so he's getting more confident. He's inspirational and that's what we need so he'll be stepping up for sure."
Cordner said he enjoyed getting "front row seats" when Waerea-Hargreaves and Thaiday come up against one another, with the pair enjoying one of the fiercest head-to-head running battles of any two players in the NRL in recent years.
"I think the best one was at Suncorp a couple of years ago... it's good to see," Cordner said.
"The players don't go out to have those personal battles, it's a spur of the moment thing but that was a good game to watch. It's good to see the boys get very competitive and go at it like that.
"It's refreshing, good to see a bit of competition there. It's a contact sport. You'd be worried if that stuff didn't happen."
The Roosters are coming off their first loss of the year having won their opening four games, going down 18-12 to an impressive Manly side at Allianz Stadium on Friday evening.
"We haven't been playing our best footy all year and it was a matter of time, if we didn't get our game on we were going to get beaten," Cordner said.
"We came up against a quality Manly side and full credit to them, they played really well and we didn't play our best and we got done," Cordner reflected.
"It's pretty disappointing to get beaten like that knowing we could have played better but if we go up to Brisbane on Thursday night not playing our best we'll get beaten again."
Fullback Michael Gordon has been enjoying some vintage form to start the year, which he credits to a combination of the players and coaches around him.
"It's a great club, great team, great coach, great spine," Gordon said.
"I suppose 'Robbo' giving me more ownership of certain parts of the game makes me more accountable. Instead of bobbing up wherever I've got places where I have to be and if I'm not there then I'm getting in trouble.
"It's just doing my job, complement the team and we've got two great halves and a great hooker that I can sort of bounce off."
Like Cordner, Gordon praised Manly's impressive efforts to earn the win last week and personally could only shake his head and the scorching pace centre Dylan Walker showed to burn past Gordon for the match-winning try at the death.
"It was a tough game, I thought Manly played really really well. It was one of those good arm-wrestles. When we looked at the review a couple of errors cost us here and there and I suppose that's been the story of our year but we've been winning. To lose the game and look back and it was the same sort of errors," he said.
And Walker? "He's quick!" Gordon laughed.
"I used to be quick but a few surgeries have slowed me down. He's looked really sharp all year. I was just worried about him stepping inside so I was a bit passive then once he got on the outside I wasn't catching him.
"He looked really sharp all game and from what I've seen he's looked sharp all year. It was one of those things, I was never catching him."