Cronk and Tedesco click against Bulldogs
Cooper Cronk knew it would take some time. It's why he returned to preseason training before he had to.
To put it in perspective, Billy Slater - who played as long as Cronk last season in winning the premiership for Melbourne and World Cup for the Kangaroos - returned to training on January 22.
Cameron Smith didn't start until a week after that.
Cronk signed in for duty with his new club on December 12. It was the week leading into his wedding day, but Cronk knew the importance of getting things started.
It was also the week James Tedesco started with the club.
Three and a bit months of work took about three and a bit halves of football to show the first signs of life in Friday night's 30-12 victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
The most talked about duo in rugby league over the offseason, Cronk and Tedesco, combining 133 minutes into their tenure together at the Roosters in a moment the halfback savoured.
Cronk was smiling while he was still airborne at the southern end of Allianz Stadium, diving over for a try after he helped put Tedesco into open space, before the fullback drew his opposite number to reciprocate the favour.
There it was. It looked like something straight out of the Slater-Cronk playbook - not that anyone is comparing, of course.
Since Cronk's signing, the expectation on the tri-colours has been that they would still be standing on the final Sunday of the competition.
Match: Roosters vs Bulldogs
Venue: Allianz Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
And given the talent at their disposal, that seems like reasonable expectation.
But expectations that they would be a well-oiled machine from the get-go were unrealistic.
There were always going to be teething problems, and the Wests Tigers exploited them in the opening weekend of the season.
Cronk didn't start until mid-December. James Tedesco around the same time.
Their skipper, Boyd Cordner, as well as prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, both underwent knee surgery in the offseason and were late starters to training.
Add to that the fact five-eighth Luke Keary suffered a broken jaw at training in the new year, and there's been very little opportunity for the team to strike up the combinations and fluency we are likely to see over the coming weeks.
Oh, and there's also that Mitchell Pearce character. You know? The one who has been at the helm of the Roosters for the past decade.
Whose unexpected and sudden departure rattled the cages of a few of his closest mates still wearing the red, white and blue in 2018.
For all the reasons mentioned above, it's why Ivan Cleary was happy when he learned his Tigers had drawn the Roosters in the opening round.
The Bulldogs, well, they weren't so thrilled with that result at ANZ Stadium last Saturday. All that meant was that any complacency or preseason kinks would be ironed out as a result of the Roosters' first round humiliation.
However of far greater concern in the opening half for the Bulldogs was an overwhelming sense of deja vu.
Just like they did for most of 2017, the Bulldogs looked a mess with ball, and it wasn't until the second half did they start to show the spark in attack that left their fans hopeful after the opening round loss to the Storm.
The shining light for the Bulldogs in a rather disappointing night was Moses Mbye, who appears to have found his best position after another dynamic performance in the No.1 jersey.
There were hopes Kieran Foran and Mbye would spark up a combination that would change the Bulldogs' fortunes. It may still happen.
But on Friday night there was only one fullback-halfback combination blossoming, and they were the ones singing the team song for the first time.