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Injuries to Roosters linchpins a 'massive blow': Cordner

The Roosters saved their best till last to overcome a stubborn Eels on Friday night but skipper Boyd Cordner reckons they might not be so lucky next time if their battle-tested leaders aren't on the field.

The Roosters copped two crucial blows in their 32-18 win at ANZ Stadium, with hooker Jake Friend leaving the field in the 33rd minute (re-occurring shoulder injury) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (rib cartilage) breaking down early in the second half.

While halfback Cooper Cronk appears likely to return in round four, Cordner believes Friend and Waerea-Hargreaves will be doing all they can to run out against the Broncos on Thursday night.

"We need him (Jake) on the field," Cordner said.

"It's early in the year and we have to be careful of it because we don't want it to be a recurring thing for him. He's a massive part of our team.

"Jared is the same. He's the leader of our forward pack. He's been in really good form at the start of the year.

"To not have them guys on the field for us, it's a massive blow, but they'll be working around the clock to try and get right for Thursday."

Roosters hooker Jake Friend.
Roosters hooker Jake Friend. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

With no Cronk and the absence of Friend in the second half, coach Trent Robinson called upon Latrell Mitchell to step into the five-eighth role with Luke Keary shifting to halfback and Victory Radley taking over the hooker duties.

Mitchell said the seamless transitions made in key positions highlighted the Roosters' enviable depth.

"The depth in our side showed," he said.

"We stuck true to our principles and that's what got us through the game. We had to dig deep and a lot of character showed in our defence."

Eels recruit Blake Ferguson was out to prove a point against his old club on Friday night – scoring the first try of the match. When the full-time siren sounded Ferguson also had 182 run metres, 51 post contact metres and two tackle breaks to his name.

Roosters prop Siosiua Taukeiaho said he missed playing with Ferguson but was pleased to see his strengths complementing the new-look Parramatta side.

"I miss Fergo," Taukeiaho said.

"He made our job a lot easier - especially the middles with his strong carries. He's taken that Roosters mentality over to Parramatta.

"He looks happy there which is good to see and he's been playing some consistent footy as well."

Match Highlights: Eels v Roosters