Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has downplayed the fact that four of his former players will line up against his team when the Newcastle Knights visit Allianz Stadium on Sunday night.
The premiership-winning coach chose to paint the round-three Telstra Premiership clash as nothing more than the Roosters against the Knights.
While the battle between rival No.7s Mitchell Pearce (Newcastle) and Cooper Cronk (Roosters) has dominated the build-up, Knights players Connor Watson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Aidan Guerra were also playing for the Bondi Junction club in 2017.
Robinson said talking about the Knights as a whole - and not individual players - was the theme of the week.
“I sort of get asked about this, but professional teams get ready for oppositions, for who they want to play. To say you want more out of a team because there is somebody in the opposition sort of defeats the purpose of being consistent and improving as a team,’’ he said.
‘’We know they [the former Roosters] are in the opposition, but we want to play better footy, and that’s what we are focused on,” Robinson said.
Robinson spent five years coaching Pearce so it’s clear he knows plenty about the 28-year-old. Just don’t ask the premiership-winning coach what this occasion means to Pearce.
“Look, I don’t know. Obviously I know him well enough, but how he plays out there this week, that’s up to him and their team,” he said.
Speaking to NRL.com this week, Watson said how he and his ex-Rooster teammates were keen to prove a point against their old side.
Robinson was guarded when asked for his take on Watson's comments.
“Well that’s up to him, if that’s how he sort of feels about it. If they’re focused on that, then that is up to them,’’ he said.
‘’We’re focused on trying to play our best footy and it’s against Newcastle this week. We understand that they’re playing in that game but it’s strange for him to say that.”
In Robinson's mind and like many at the Roosters, this is a subject long behind them now. When pressed again as to how Pearce could be feeling heading into the anticipated clash, Robinson couldn’t be drawn on speaking on behalf of his former playmaker.
“You’re going to have to ask Mitchell that. You’re asking me to speak for him, I can only speak for our club. We’ve gone through that in the preseason, he’s talked about it, we’ve talked about it and now we’re up to playing. You need to ask them those questions”, Robinson said.
The Roosters will be looking to make it back-to-back wins after proving too good for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in round two.
The Friday clash with the Bulldogs has afforded Robinson and his team a nine-day preparation.
“It’s been good, we obviously played the Friday night game heading into a Sunday game is good. We got a good recovery in, got a couple of good sessions in; it’s been a good week,” he said.
“We had a six day turnaround last week and a bit longer turn around, so it’s been good”.