The Fitzgibbon rev up that fired up Roosters pack
A frank directive 'to pull our finger out' from club legend and assistant coach Craig Fitzgibbon is behind the fire and brimstone rediscovered by the Roosters maligned forward pack.
High-profile front-rowers Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Dylan Napa have copped plenty of criticism across an inconsistent start to 2018, but the Tricolours pack turned in their best collective performance of the year in last week's 32-0 demolition of the Warriors on their own turf.
Waerea-Hargreaves' 171 running metres were easily his best tally of the season while Napa's venom in defence was plain for all to see as the Roosters forwards responded to a pre-game rallying cry from Fitzgibbon.
With 228 games for the Bondi club, 18 Kangaroos Tests and 11 NSW Origin berths, Fitzgibbon's honest assessment of the Roosters' big men is what stung them into a bruising display according to rising second-rower Ryan Matterson.
"We had a forwards meeting during the week and we said 'we've got to pull our finger out this week'," Matterson told NRL.com.
"Fitzy brought us in actually and he's done everything in the game. And when Fitzy tells you something you listen.
"We all listened and got on board with that message because you don't want to let him down.
"It was the consistency that was the real driver there, and it wasn't just about that game, it was about from here on in.
"There's been a lot of talk about our pack but we haven't really taken that in. It's the internal talk that matters so when it's picked out like that, everyone listened and it was a strong motivator this week.
"With all the noise from outside the group, it's hard to block it out sometimes. Some individuals do get targeted but for us it's about what your teammates and your coaches think."
The Roosters now travel to Brisbane on Friday night to take on an injury-hit Broncos outfit, gunning for a third straight win for the first time this season.
While Brisbane will be without key forwards Josh McGuire (ankle), Matt Gillett (back), Alex Glenn (knee) and Payne Haas (shoulder), the visitors will only be strengthened by the return of pocket rocket Victor Radley from suspension.
Carrying the can for Wayne Bennett is a promising but inconsistent trio of young middle men in Matt Lodge, Tevita Pangai jnr and Joe Ofahengaue, who will pit themselves against a former Junior Kangaroos teammate in Matterson.
Remarkably Matterson, who now measures 194 cm tall, 107 kilos wide, pushed them around the park as a halfback in a 2014 clash with the Junior Kiwis, long before graduating to first grade as a ball-playing utility.
"They were massive humans from the get go as kids, back in 20s they were massive for their teams back then too and they're handling that step up to NRL pretty well too," Matterson said of Brisbane's rising forward contingent.
"I was lucky to be a halfback behind them then, it was good fun running off the back of them but it'll be a little bit different this week.
"We've been a little bit inconsistent in our forward pack, some players have been going pretty well when some have let us down. Overall I think that effort against the Warriors ended up a good performance, but it's just the beginning, we've now got to repeat it against the Broncs."