Luke Keary has revealed he had only the best part of 90 minutes training in the past six weeks with the rest of the Roosters all-star playmaking spine before their first NRL outing together.
Keary's successful return from a broken jaw and subsequent concussion symptoms proved a sight for sore eyes as he and star signings Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco orchestrated a five-tries-to-two thumping of Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Allianz Stadium.
Despite dropping five kilos while on a liquid diet and at times being bed bound by persistent headaches during his six-week lay-off, Keary took the line on without fear in his first game of 2018.
The 26-year-old five-eighth finished with a try and two assists in the Bulldogs' trouncing, while Cronk and Tedesco also performed in line with the big money price tags that saw them lured to Bondi over the off-season.
Keary's ill-timed broken jaw meant the trio had spent little to no time on the training paddock together since mid-January, while Tedesco and Cronk's World Cup commitments also limited their chances to work with Keary and hooker Jake Friend.
"To be honest, I haven't done any training with Jake, Cooper and James basically," Keary said after the 30-12 defeat of Canterbury.
"I only really got Monday which was a very light day because they came from the (round one) game, and then Wednesday we had half an hour together.
Match: Roosters v Bulldogs
Round 2 -
Venue: Allianz Stadium
- LIVE PASS
"The boys (Tedesco and Cronk) weren't there before Christmas. And then I had two, maybe three weeks but it wasn't too much footy and obviously I've had the last five or six weeks off so we haven't done much at all together to be honest.
"But we've spoken a lot of footy together… We spoke about how we wanted to go about it, and it’s one thing speaking about and another doing it."
While those close to Keary were worried at the repeated headaches he suffered early on during his recovery period, the 26-year-old said the combination of the initial training injury and resulting surgery had left him "a bit dusty there for a couple of weeks."
With Cronk, Tedesco and Keary all getting across the try line and the latter also piloting Ryan Matterson across late in the piece, the Tricolours looked a different side to the one humbled six days earlier by the Wests Tigers.
Keary joked that he has a habit of "making halfbacks look good" given Cronk is the third Origin No.7 he will line up alongside in as many seasons after combining with Mitchell Pearce last year and former Rabbitohs teammate Adam Reynolds at South Sydney.
Cronk's famed calm while under fire impressed Keary most after his first game alongside the 34-year-old who has accomplished most everything in rugby league.
"They've all been good but they all have their little niches to their games that makes them great and obviously Cooper, he's the Australian and Queensland half," Keary said.
"He's just got that calm head, controls the game really well. I'll learn his game I think over the month.
"(Against the Bulldogs) Coops controlled that middle third of the field. James spent a bit of time over on the right down some short sides and he spent a bit of time with me out on the left. Coops basically just rolls those big boys forward and chooses his times.
"We simplified it from the week before, we were pretty bad the week before. We didn't play that Roosters style of footy and we just simplified what we had to do."