Roosters shrug off bizarre injury distractions for Cronk and Keary
After a bizarre week of stingrays, concussion concerns and the biggest round one upset in some time, the Sydney Roosters are confident of having their star halves fully fit and their forwards firing once more against Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
As the shortest priced pre-season favourites in a decade, the Tricolours stumbled out of the blocks in a shock 10-8 defeat to Wests Tigers as marquee men Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco made high-profile, low-return debuts for the club.
Cronk's preparations for the match were thrown out of sync when he was stung on the foot by what Boyd Cordner believed was a stingray during a beach recovery session, with the Roosters co-captain at one point fearing the star No.7 would be ruled out by the outlandish injury.
With fellow playmaker Luke Keary expected to return this week from a broken jaw that saw him kept on ice for round one, Cordner revealed his pre-game concern for Cronk after coach Trent Robinson had initially played down the incident.
''He just came in (last week) with ice on his foot and his foot was all swollen and he couldn't walk,'' Cordner said on Monday.
''It was pretty crazy. He couldn't train. I was worried that he wouldn't be able to play, it was pretty sore.
''Obviously he turned around pretty good. He's still got band aids and that on it, it's a fair gash. It's pretty bizarre.''
Despite the disruption Cronk proved himself one of the Roosters' best in the loss to the Tigers, and is now set to play his first game alongside live-wire halves partner Keary.
Keary's worrying headaches as a result of a jaw fracture suffered six weeks ago have now subsided, but he still has to pass relevant fitness and cognitive tests to take his place against the Bulldogs on Friday.
The 25-year-old's injury has meant he and Cronk have yet to play a single minute of football together since the latter's off-season arrival at Moore Park.
With both the Roosters and Canterbury in pursuit of their first win for 2018, Cordner admitted Keary's absence had been keenly felt in the surprise loss to Wests Tigers.
''He's massive, he's one of our best players,'' Cordner said.
''We know how well he played last year throughout the year and we missed him.
''I know he's going really well in his training and I knew he was close to playing in round one but I think that's the plan for him to play.
''Hopefully we can get him back this week.''
Having made his own return from knee surgery via the bench last week, Cordner expects to return to his regular starting role in a forward pack under fire over its recent performances.
Critics have called out big name big men Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Dylan Napa over their efforts in last year's finals series, while the Tigers' revamped pack also got the better of their more-credentialed opposites last week.
Cordner dismissed concerns around his pack's performances, but conceded the Bulldogs' front-row pairing of Aaron Woods and David Klemmer would pose as tough a challenge as any for Waerea-Hargreaves and co - who he tipped to respond in kind.
''I'm comfortable and happy about the way we go about things,'' Cordner said.
''I don't think it is our forwards that are the problem, it's a team game and I have no doubts about our forward pack.
''They looked really good against Melbourne … and it's always a fiery game when we come up against the Dogs.
''He's a very emotional player Jared, he plays with his heart on his sleeve and that's why we love him.''