Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson said he was helping the pre-season preparations of his premiership and World Club Challenge winning stars by sitting them out of Saturday night's 38-20 trial loss to Manly in Gosford.
The bulk of the grand final winners, other than a small number who left the club and Latrell Mitchell who played for the Indigenous All Stars, featured in the 20-8 WCC win against Wigan on February 17.
Of the extended squad that lined up against Manly, only three – Matt Ikuvalu, Lindsay Collins and Nat Butcher – played against Wigan.
None played in the grand final win and just one – star recruit Angus Crichton – can be considered a certainty for round one.
Speaking after the trial, Robinson was happy with the way things are progressing.
"We rested the guys to give them an opportunity to get some training done and an extra couple of weeks of prep and then also to get the opportunity for some of those young guys that play smaller parts to stand up and see what they do with 80 minutes rather than 20 or 30," Robinson said.
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"We all know what it takes to recover from long overseas flights, it takes that week to 10 days to fully recover but then we're also asking them to be top-end athletes where percentage points on recovery make a really big difference.
"A lot of people will come out of those games and play 40 minutes [in the later trials] but you end up stopping your prep, so we wanted to continue our pre-season for a couple of weeks longer.
In those four key positions ... the knowledge is so much greater this yearRoosters coach Trent Robinson on his attacking spine
"We knew where the guys were at. I thought they were really good a couple of weeks ago [against Wigan], physically really good but we wanted to train them a bit more and we'll be ready to go round one."
Plenty of pundits are backing the Roosters to break the premiers' hoodoo and become the first team to go back-to-back in a united competition since the 1992-93 Broncos.
A big part of that is because the Roosters started 2018 sluggishly with a dramatically revamped playmaking roster; star signings Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco were playing like complete strangers and it took an almost complete structural overhaul eight rounds into 2018 for them to click.
Robinson agreed his side should start 2019 with a head-start on where they were 12 months earlier.
"We've had a lot of training time since January but there's also a bank of knowledge that hasn't changed," he said.
"There's personnel change every year in different areas but in those four key positions, the guiding positions on the field, the knowledge is so much greater this year than what it was at the beginning of last year. We always said we really want to continue to develop our game as well."