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Origin intensity: Inside Roosters' 20 days of brutal battles

Three weeks ago during a Thursday training session, Victor Radley shook the dandruff off of Lindsay Collins with a tackle that he apparently does not reserve solely for opposition ball-runners.

It ruled the Roosters prop out of their stirring win over Parramatta two days later with a neck injury, such was the whiplash delivered by Radley's shot.

And it kicked off a 20-day period in which the premiers have played three games at an intensity typically seen only in State of Origin and finals football.

An Stats analysis reveals - across several metrics - that each of the Roosters' past three games against the Eels, Dragons and Storm have surpassed last year's Origin series for pace of play.

On average the ball has been in play longer, and the Roosters and their opposition have run for more metres, thrown more offloads and passes, and made more play-the-balls than seen in the 2019 Origin series.

Rather than ease back on the throttle midweek, scenarios such as Radley's friendly fire on Collins point to the Roosters maintaining the rage.

"You're constantly adapting on the run, but you don't plan for average games," Robinson said when quizzed on his side's last three weeks.

"Our planning hasn't changed through this whole period, and it won't. We're very clear about what our season looks like, and then you adapt individually with players or groups of players slightly off that."

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The rise of in-game intensity is due in no small part to the NRL's new six-again rule speeding up most every fixture since the Telstra Premiership's resumption.

Comparing the quality of club football to State of Origin – rugby league's biggest stage starring Australia's elite 34 players – also enters dangerous apples and oranges territory.

The Roosters though have featured in two genuine, rolled gold standard matches this year, and thrived under the six-again rule changes.

Their 24-10 win over Parramatta was labelled the game of 2020, only for last week's epic 27-25 extra time loss to Melbourne to trump it and be widely regarded as one of the best of the past decade.

The difference in run metres and attacking play-the-balls in those two games especially compared to Origin points to more end-to-end play involving the Roosters, and sustained defensive periods like the start of their second half against the Eels.

Both the Parramatta and Melbourne clashes came on the back of five-day turnarounds.

In between the Roosters squared off with the Dragons, with James Tedesco sidelined by concussion from when he was caught under the wheels of Maika Sivo, and evergreen Josh Morris nursing an "old man's injury" to his calf.

Robinson: Cordner treats himself with 'disdain'

Robinson's side lost Radley, and then back-up hooker Sam Verrills, to two separate ACL ruptures in the space of 14 minutes.

Issac Liu tried to play through a broken rib that has since kept him sidelined.

And Brett Morris backed up his claim his 10 minutes younger than Josh by pushing through a bad back that had him standing while his teammates sat through video and team meetings all week.

With Robinson's bench rotation in all-sorts, starting props Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Siosiua Taukeiaho sent the message upstairs.

"We've got this coach".

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Taukeiaho played the full 80, and Waerea-Hargreaves all but seven minutes of another hard-fought win.

Then to last week's thriller against Melbourne.

Flying winger Daniel Tupou (ankle) is an eight-week casualty, while captain Boyd Cordner was forced out of the game when his had snapped viciously against the Suncorp turf after 83 minutes.

Despite the blow, Robinson says Cordner was ruled out of Thursday's trip to Townsville – which looms as an 18-hour up and back trip – not due to HIA protocols but because his skipper would run himself into the ground if up to him.

"He just treats himself with disdain most of the time when he plays," Robinson said.

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"There's only one gear for Boyd, so sometimes we have to make a decision to pull back on that.

"There's been a couple of big weeks in a row, so we get the recovery his body needs to go as hard as he wants to go."

This year's Origin series has been pushed back beyond an October 25 grand final to November, in the hope of capacity crowds attending the landmark clashes.

For the past three weeks though, the Roosters must feel somewhat like they're going through the usual representative-period wringer.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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