Roosters' litmus test starts with Storm
Having navigated their way through the first half of the year in style, Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary says the next three weeks will be a stern test of their credentials heading in to the business end of the season.
The Tricolours are currently second on the ladder after 15 rounds, four points behind this week's opponents the Melbourne Storm, who have been decimated by State of Origin ahead of Saturday night's game in Adelaide.
This weekend's clash signals the start of a three-game period that will see the Roosters take on the ladder-leaders, last year's premiers, the Sharks, and arch-rivals the Rabbitohs in consecutive weeks.
It will be a litmus test of their premiership credentials, especially with players coming in and out of the side due to representative commitments, but the Roosters head into this tricky period with plenty of confidence after they successfully navigated a five-game stretch in the weeks leading up to their first bye.
"We had a block where we cut it down to a mini-comp of five games from the Rep Round to our first bye," Keary told NRL.com.
"I think we went four from five and we were probably a bit unlucky in that Canberra game not to get the win with our Origin boys missing. We were really happy with how that period went and now we've got another block of three following last week's bye.
"We just want to build and consolidate through this period to put ourselves in a good position at the backend of the year. We want to show that we can play well in the big games against the big teams, and I think we've done that in every game bar the Broncos game up there at the start of the year."
Trent Robinson's men will head into the top-of-the-table clash without skipper Boyd Cordner (calf) but their woes are nothing compared to their opponents south of the border.
The Storm will be missing stars Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith following another epic State of Origin confrontation, but Keary believes it will be business as usual for the competition frontrunners as they look to extend their lead atop the Telstra Premiership ladder.
"I think we've just got to play our game because that's exactly what they're going to do," he said.
"They're a well-rounded team and we're trying to build that same sort of system, especially in defence, because I think we've shown that we can attack well in 2017."
Their defence will want to be on song after they were embarrassed 46-0 by the Storm at Allianz Stadium in Round 14 last year.
Winger Daniel Tupou said that game hadn't been brought up in team meetings, but conceded he had to be at his best to contain counterpart Suliasi Vunivalu who scored a hat-trick in the 46-point rout.
"It hasn't been brought up at all yet. That's in the past and we're just more focussed on taking on another team that likes to play live-ball footy like us," Tupou told NRL.com.
"He's a freakish player and he's exciting to watch. It'll be a tough personal battle for me on Saturday night and I've got to be at my best because the last two times we've played them, he's done really well against me."