Roosters playmaker Luke Keary believes the club is building its combinations and continuity at the right time of year after a difficult and injury-hit middle third of the season.
Keary (concussion) missed a month mid-season while fullback James Tedesco was one of several club stars with Origin commitments and hooker Jake Friend has missed most of the season with a biceps rupture then a broken arm.
A surprise round 17 loss to the Cowboys in Gosford was the team's fifth loss in seven games but five straight wins – three of those by 36 points or more – has the Tricolours surging towards September footy.
"It's been good; probably during that Cowboys game and the weeks before it we were coming out of the Origin period, we knew we had to get some things right, we weren't doing stuff great," Keary said.
"We were doing some good things. We're just slowly improving every week which is good to see. There's a few areas we need to improve on, there's a few areas we're doing really well, but it's a week-to-week thing this time of year."
Keary wasn't worried a few blowout games against bottom-eight sides was giving a false impression of where the team is at, or providing a sub-par warm-up for the impending finals.
Keary and Mitchell break away
"They're all tough games and we obviously had Canberra sprinkled in there which was a bit semi-final like," he said.
"I don't think any of the other games, no games are bad for you. It's not hard to get yourself up for them either."
Plenty of people will be expecting another blowout win against the 14th-placed Dragons at Kogarah this Saturday but Keary said the fierce rivalry between the two clubs and calibre of players in the Dragons roster should ensure a tough contest.
Keary has never played at Kogarah, with the Dragons' clashes against both his current club and former club South Sydney usually held at the SCG, or Allianz Stadium before its recent demolition.
"I've never played there … we have Anzac Day here, the second game is usually at the SFS too. It should be fun," Keary said.
"I think they've been unlucky this year to be honest, they've got a quality footy team, some really good players. They've gone through a couple of unlucky periods. We know how dangerous they can be. We have a pretty big rivalry with them with Anzac Day so they're never easy games."
Keary was also quizzed on a bizarre rant from Broncos coach Anthony Seibold, who last week chose to cherry pick a statistically quiet game from Keary to defend his own maligned five-eighth Darius Boyd.
"I had a look through the competition from last weekend, there's an Australian No.6 playing for a team in Sydney who only made four metres last week and missed five tackles and not one thing was said in the media about that," Seibold said in the lead-up to his side's round 22 game against Penrith.
Seibold leaps to Darius Boyd's defence
Keary laughed when asked what could have prompted him to be dragged into the issue.
"I don't know him, I've never spoken to him," Keary shrugged.
"I thought it was really odd but I'm not sure, you'd have to ask him what he meant or if it was personal. I don't know, I haven't really bought into it, I don't really care too much but it was a bit odd."
He was, however, more forthcoming on the recent racial vilification of teammate Latrell Mitchell and in particular Mitchell's classy, mature and dignified response both on and off the field.
"It's difficult to see someone you're close to have to deal with stuff like that, especially in our day and age, it's just not on," Keary said.
"That's not us as a country, what are we doing? But I'm proud of him the way he's handled himself, it's a credit to himself, his family, the game and the club."