Perfect opportunity for Roosters' lesser lights to shine
Jake Friend backs the Sydney Roosters' young guns to step up in the absence of their captain Boyd Cordner and hard-hitting prop Dylan Napa.
Napa is out after suffering a knee injury in round 16 against the Storm, while coach Trent Robinson is resting his skipper after Wednesday night's Origin duties in Brisbane.
Filling Cordner's big shoes against the Titans on Sunday will be 20-year-old Nat Butcher, while Lindsay Collins is likely to step in for Napa.
Friend told NRL.com he expects the talented duo to make the most of the opportunity and is eager to see what they have to offer.
"Boyd and Napa are obviously two big parts of our team," Friend said.
"Especially with our go-forward, they're pretty prominent in that. But we've got some young boys coming through and it's awesome to see them getting opportunities and I'm excited to see what they can do on the weekend."
Now in his third season of first grade, Butcher is starting to come into his own as a valuable member of Robinson's main squad.
Friend said he hasn't shied away from taking on a vocal role with the Roosters - a strong trait of Cordner's game.
"Whilst it's tough to fill Boyd's shoes, Nat's an awesome player and I'm sure he'll come in and do a great job," Friend said.
"Boyd is very vocal and you know when he wants the ball and I think Butch is similar in that way. He played there last week and was yelling out from that left side and you knew when he wanted to take a hit up - it's great to have a guy so young and keen to get his hands on the ball."
The Roosters are fifth on the Telstra Premiership ladder and will be confident of taking the two points home from Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday.
Vice-captain Jared Waerea-Hargreaves said defence would be the key against the Titans.
"When we played them on the Central Coast [in round 12] they threw a lot of footy at us," Waerea-Hargreaves said.
"With the style of footy they play they ask a lot of questions so defensively you have to be on. We obviously know we can attack so for us it's about worrying about our defence."
After an ordinary showing through the first half of the season, the fifth-placed Roosters are well placed for a top four finish.
Waerea-Hargreaves said his team is confident with how they are tracking with eight rounds remaining but there was still work to be done.
"We're at that crucial time in the season where you want to start or already be playing some good footy," he said.
"There are certain parts of our footy which are really good so our confidence is high but at the same time we know we still have a lot of improvement in us."