STATE OF ORIGIN
Robinson backs Cordner for Blues captaincy
Roosters coach Trent Robinson has backed inspirational co-captain Boyd Cordner to take over from Paul Gallen as skipper of the NSW Blues side for this year's State of Origin series.
Robinson isn't one to make bold statements just for the sake of it, so his words on Friday night added extra weight to the growing chorus of past and present players who are backing the 24-year-old to lead his state.
Cordner assumed the co-captaincy at the Tricolours at the start of the season and has been a key cog in their rapid rise up the ladder after a horror 2016.
"I don't usually throw my weight behind that – I usually understate that sort of stuff – but he's ready," Robinson said following his side's 24-6 win over the Knights.
"He knows the responsibility that he's got in the team now. He was never 99 per cent – he was always 100 per cent – but he knows he's had to carry the weight of a team and he has to talk a bit more during the week. When you do that, you have to deliver on the field, and he's done that."
Cordner produced colossal numbers in his side's 18-point win, running for 174 metres and making 37 tackles in a big 80-minute performance at McDonald Jones Stadium.
In what was a physical match played at a frenetic pace for the most part, Robinson said he was about to replace his back-rower before he defied his workload with a crucial carry to get his side on the front foot.
"We thought he was gone with 10 minutes to go," he said.
"Boyd will say he was in the red and then he made that huge run up the middle. We were debating whether to replace him or not. He would have been very unhappy if I did. That's the difference between some guys and others; they turn up when they're in the red. Most guys don't, but this guy does.
"You've got to be on your game if Boyd is in front of you. The way that he carries the ball, you've got to get your ruck sorted and then if you get your ruck sorted you better get your edge sorted because he's coming at you.
"He just keeps coming and he keeps putting pressure on opposition, but if you over-compensate for that, someone might play out the back."
Perhaps Cordner's biggest contribution was a miraculous try-saver on Knights centre Dane Gagai that Robinson described as a "big turning point" in the contest.
Gagai – who has been in supreme form – would have made it 12-10 had it not been for Cordner, but instead of accepting all the praise, the representative edge forward applauded teammate Shaun Kenny-Dowall for stepping up in his new role at left centre.
"We knew that they were going to come down there, especially with Gagai and the form he's been in. I think he showed tonight in parts of the game how dangerous he can be," Cordner said.
"We knew we had to be really good there, hence why we put a more-experienced player in Shaun Kenny-Dowall over there. I thought he did a fantastic job tonight and he really stood up and put some experience on that left edge for us which helped us.
"I just asked for a special effort from the boys tonight. I knew that we were right on from our first set of defence down there and it was a good feeling to be back on. We're not content – we've still got a long way to go – but it was a good stepping stone tonight."