Robinson backs Matterson to fill Keary's boots

Trent Robinson expects a seamless five-eighth transition for Ryan Matterson, as the Roosters continue to roll with the punches in the wake of losing key playmaker Luke Keary indefinitely to a knee injury.

Keary went down in the second half of the last Sunday's 36-18 win over the Dragons and is expected to miss several weeks.

But Robinson is confident Matterson - a quintessential utility who is also comfortable playing centre or in the back-row - will fill capably cover for Keary.

Having a depleted line-up is an all-too familiar scenario for the Roosters. Robinson revealed he hasn't had a full-strength side this season and won't be using that as an excuse as they prepare to face the Cowboys on Saturday night.

"I don't think there's been a game this year where we've had what you'd say is our best 17 on the park," Robinson said.

"That's what club football is about, that's what training's about and that's why you train with 36 guys so anyone can step in at any time.

"But it's just another week and another little shuttle of what our best team is for this weekend. Matterson has played a lot of football, he played a lot of five-eighth and we've got two other guys that will also command the ball out there.

Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary goes down injured in round 20 against the Dragons.
Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary goes down injured in round 20 against the Dragons. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"Luke's a really high quality player but this week he's not in the team, it's our turn to go and the 17 that we picked are really clear on what they need to do."

With finals football just five games away Keary can't afford to take his time coming back, but Robinson is playing it safe with the 26-year-old's recovery.

"We're not going to rush him at all, there's no reason to," Robinson said.

"He's a quick healer - there won't be any early or late call in bringing him back, when he's right he'll play.

"But that won't be for a few weeks so we can put him with the other guys and get him strong, fit and healthy again."

The loss of Keary has been tempered by the return of Origin rep Dylan Napa, who has been sidelined for four weeks with a knee injury.

Robinson said the Roosters are looking forward to having their hard-hitting enforcer back for their clash against the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

"It's been a while for him with that knee injury that set him back, so it'll be good to get him back into the team," Robinson said.

Saturday night will be the last time the Roosters go head-to-head with one of the game's all-time greats - retiring Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston.

Former Maroons teammates Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston share one of many happy moments in the Origin arena.
Former Maroons teammates Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston share one of many happy moments in the Origin arena. ©NRL Photos

The game will have special meaning for Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk, who played alongside Thurston several times for Queensland and Australia.

Cronk is looking forward to his final fling against his long-time mate and all week he has been reminiscing about the games he's had the privilege of playing with and against Thurston.

"He's (Thurston) a legend of our game and we're looking forward to playing against him for the last time this weekend and we will honour him in a Roosters way," Robinson said.

"They're good mates (Cronk and Thurston) with a lot of shared experiences over many different teams with Queensland and Australia.

"There's a lot of history there and Cooper talked a bit about it at the start of the week and I think there will be a bit of that over the last few rounds for JT.

"They'll share a moment post-game, but for 80 minutes it will be game on."