Roosters not banking on neutral support
Despite suggestions from some quarters that Sydneysiders who support a team no longer in the finals race should jump on board the Bondi club, Roosters players say they aren't expecting too much neutral support this weekend.
Trent Robinson's men are the only NSW club in contention with two Queensland teams (the Broncos and Cowboys) plus the Melbourne Storm also still vying for the 2017 Telstra Premiership.
But the tribal nature of Sydney rugby league fans means supporting a nearby rival can seem far less palatable than, say, a possible fairy tale for North Queensland, who often wind up as the second team for many non-aligned supporters as they did in their 2015 title win.
With the Roosters hosting the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium this Sunday, players are simply hoping their own fans turn out in numbers to try and get a close to capacity crowd.
"Not at all – everyone hates us!" laughed co-captain Boyd Cordner when prompted on the topic this week.
"It's been that way since 1908 I suppose. I'm not sure [why]. I hope they do get behind us but I'm not expecting too much."
Cordner did not wish to be drawn on the possible perception of the team as privileged eastern suburbs types, even though plenty of the current players are far from that description.
Cordner and Latrell Mitchell are from Taree in country NSW while Connor Watson (Newcastle), Daniel Tupou and Ryan Matterson (western Sydney), plus four New Zealand forwards (Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Isaac Liu, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Zane Tetevano) and four Queenslanders (Aidan Guerra, Dylan Napa, Jake Friend and Luke Keary) are among the current crop who fly in that face of that cliché.
Halfback Mitch Pearce wasn't banking on too many bandwagon fans either.
"I don't know. It's a bit of a funny one. It'd be good to get a good crowd!" he laughed.
"It's not going to make a difference how we play whether they're behind us or not. We've got some good solid Roosters fans, about 8,000, 10,000 that always turn up every week and those fans always get us home.
"As long as all the Roosters fans come out and support us this week it will be much appreciated. I'm not too sure how the wider game, who they want in there but for the Roosters it's great. We always have a solid chook pen out there and the boys can always hear their support."
And despite the Roosters finishing second and the Cowboys eighth, both Cordner and Pearce were wary of the threat the 2015 premiers would pose after impressive and gutsy wins over the Sharks and Eels this finals series.
"They're in some great form, Morgan's been outstanding and they're a great side," Pearce said.
"They're competing. Last week they showed more desire than Parramatta. Over 80 minutes they competed on every play and they ended up getting the result. Any game going into a grand final is going to be hard. We're looking forward to it."
Cordner agreed North Queensland's past two performances had been impressive.
"They've taken their game to another level and they've been playing some awesome footy, making teams beat them," Cordner said.
"Especially with the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Michael Morgan with the form he's in, it's not surprising to see how well they're going."