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Sydney Roosters 2019 Season Preview

Having first struggled, then survived and finally thrived in 2018, the Tricolours will carry a similar burden this time around given the prime opportunity to go back-to-back.

The evidence was plain for all to see on the final Sunday of September - few teams have turned it on quite like the Roosters in the first half of last year's decider, and even fewer against a team like that Storm outfit.

With Cooper Cronk on the mend, James Tedesco boasting another pre-season under his belt and the potential of Latrell Mitchell and Victor Radley a tad intimidating, the bookmakers have already installed the Roosters as clear premiership favourites.

There's plenty of reasons why they won't deliver – rugby league has a habit of cutting defending premiers down to size in quick time.

But there's just as many, if not more, reasons why they can claim consecutive titles.

Soward's Say: 2019 Sydney Roosters

The 2019 outlook

What's New  

Size, strength and star power out wide with Brett Morris and English international Ryan Hall signed to replace Blake Ferguson.

Hall will still be recovering from an ACL rupture as the season starts and Ferguson departs Bondi as the Dally M winger of the year.

But between the pair of them, Morris and Hall boast a combined 50 Tests for Australia and England and an astounding 370 tries from 461 games in the NRL and Super League.

Roosters winger Brett Morris.
Roosters winger Brett Morris. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Up front, Dylan Napa's fire and brimstone will be missed but negated by the rise of Siosiua Taukeiaho and Isaac Liu as top-notch enforcers, while Angus Crichton's signing simply balances the class and skill of Boyd Cordner's left edge now on the Roosters' right.

The Draw

The Roosters have two month-long periods that will truly test the mettle of their premiership defence – between rounds 4-8 and 22-25.

Across April they face the Broncos and Sharks before a grand final rematch with the Storm and their annual ANZAC Day meeting with the Dragons.

Their final month of the season comes against 2018 top eight teams as well – with the Warriors, Dragons, Panthers and Rabbitohs making for a difficult run home.

Throughout the Origin period – when Cordner, Mitchell, Tedesco and Crichton are all expected to turn out for NSW – the Tricolours face only Melbourne and Penrith from last year's finals contenders.

The stat that gives you hope

The Roosters' outside men did their share of heavy lifting and then some in the title tilt, with Ferguson (109 metres), Daniel Tupou (94.6) and Joey Manu (89) all ranking in the top 10 for metres made in their own 40-metre zone. Ferguson is of course now at Parramatta, but has been replaced by a couple of internationals in Hall and Morris.

What you need to know NRL Fantasy wise

Rep stars Crichton ($818,000), Tedesco ($795,000) and Mitchell ($669,000) are all established Fantasy stars and Radley ($503,000) could join them if he locks up a starting spot in 2019. Jake Friend ($701,000) showed in the second half of last season he could do more than just rack up huge tackle counts so could join the elite Fantasy hookers this season.

The coach

2018 had a different Trent Robinson on show to the rugby league world – the Roosters mentor loathe to give anything away in his public comments.

The change of tact from one of the game's more genial and approachable thinkers was Robinson's means of managing the unenviable expectation around his side.

There's simply no arguing with the results if Robinson chooses the same approach again in 2019.

Robinson boasts two titles and four minor premierships in his first six years of first grade with Nick Politis re-signing him for another four years while talking him up as the "Alex Ferguson of the NRL".

Contract Matters

Out go Ferguson and Napa, in come Crichton, Morris and Hall. The Roosters' 15 NRL rivals would kill for that kind of talent turnover and all things being equal as far as contracts go, the No.7 jumper poses the only major hurdle, with Cronk recently turning 35 and off-contract at season's end.

With a million-dollar war chest but no representative level halves on the market, questions are already being asked about whether the champion playmaker has an extra year in him.

Five key matchups of the Roosters’ 2019 draw

The Burning Question

Is this the year we finally get back-to-back premiers?

It gets asked each and every year of some genuinely champion sides, but on paper the Roosters are arguably stronger than last season while key contenders – Melbourne (no Billy Slater), Rabbitohs, Broncos, Sharks and Panthers (new coaches) – will be navigating serious upheaval in 2019.

Roosters forward Victor Radley.
Roosters forward Victor Radley. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Representative bolter

Victor Radley. Is he a Blues bolter if both the state captain and coach hit the high notes in praise at every chance they get? Brad Fittler has had Radley in his past two Emerging Blues camps and the RLPA's reigning Rookie of the Year will put serious heat on Tyrone Peachey's utility role if he keeps belting forwards twice his size.

The player you should follow on social media

James Tedesco. The Roosters, NSW and Australia fullback likes his sports. Whether it be a day at the races or playing in the pro-am before the Australian Open golf tournament, the speedy No.1 makes the most of his time away from rugby league.

 
 
 
 
 
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Cracking day out at the pro-am today. Thanks to @emirates and my caddy @bglackin for helping me shoot 100+ 🙂

A post shared by James Tedesco (@jamestedesco) on

The quote

"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." - Roosters coach Trent Robinson

Arrows indicate players who signed after the submission of initial rosters on November 1, 2018.