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Trent Robinson makes some sideline instructions against Newcastle.

The last time the Roosters finished a season without a premiership, they went and signed one of the modern era's great winners and one of the NRL's biggest talents.

Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco arrived at Bondi, back-to-back titles came with them and the Tricolours were rightly hailed as one of the great sides in recent history.

To pin the 2018-19 triumphs on the club's chequebook is a gross disservice to Trent Robinson and the elite outfit he commands.

The two seismic signings do however point to the second iteration of his eight-year reign at the Roosters.

The Cronk era in red, white and blue only lasted two seasons.

The Roosters' 2020 season in review

Now with the Roosters chasing rather than defending the premiership, arguably the most intriguing campaign yet of Robinson's career kicks off a third instalment of his tenure.

"It's obvious we've got an ageing roster and there are guys moving on or into retirement," club patriarch and chairman Nick Politis says.

"It's not the first time we've been through this transition. It's happened recently with Cooper, before that it was James Maloney moving on and before that it was Mini [Anthony Minichiello].

"You're constantly watching it and managing your roster and your salary cap.

"Of course we don't feel it's the start of a downturn. If you want to take that view, then last year was that.

"It was a great year don't get me wrong, but it was just too much in the end with injuries, a few concussions and we didn't quite finish the way we wanted.

"But our roster really isn't that different this time around, there's still the bulk of that side together and they're still coached by Trent Robinson."

Politis is right on all counts. The average age of the Roosters' 17 that went down in a gallant semi-final loss to Canberra at the SCG was 28.41 years old.

Club icon Mitch Aubusson bowed out as the most-capped Rooster of all-time afterwards, 35-year-old Sonny Bill Williams's brief return also ended and veteran English winger Ryan Hall returned to the UK.

At the end of 2021 the Morris twins Brett and Josh are both expected to retire while co-captain Jake Friend has a standing agreement to weigh up one-year deals with the club each season.

NRL and Roosters medical staff, along with Robinson, are in regular contact with Boyd Cordner following a string of concussions that eventually led to him stepping back from the State of Origin arena.

He is slated to return to pre-season training at some point in the new year but has kept up light duties throughout a rare break from the game.

As was the case when Cronk's arrival pushed favourite son Mitchell Pearce to Newcastle, the No.7 jersey takes centre stage.

Analysing the Roosters' 2021 draw

It's vacant again after Kyle Flanagan's post-season review – the Tuesday after playing through a shoulder injury against the Raiders – set his early exit in motion.

Luke Keary will take on even more responsibility in the halves as he and Tedesco progressively take the lead in the team's transition.

Whereas at the end of 2017 they spent the best part of $2 million on Cronk and Tedesco, their next iteration of stars already call Bondi Junction home.

Joseph Suaalii's high-profile poaching from South Sydney of course is the exception, but he arrived recently as a superstar schoolboy, not a title-winning representative stalwart.

Along with prodigious young half Sam Walker, the Roosters boast two of the most sought-after junior talents in recent memory.

Elsewhere, Victor Radley's return from an ACL rupture is a critical 2021 inclusion given the extra ball-playing he took on to complement Flanagan before going down injured in June.

Roosters' top five tries of 2020

Like the development of Suaalii and Walker though, Radley and Sam Verrills - who also tore his ACL - will take time in getting back to their best after such serious injuries suffered 10 minutes apart from each other in the clash with the Dragons.

Verrills's re-signing on Thursday until the end of 2024, announced alongside that of second-rower Sitili Tupouniua, continues a retention spree that tied up Tedesco for the same tenure earlier this month.

Tupouniua in particular was understood to have fielded lucrative interest from rival clubs, but negotiations for a new three-year deal moved swiftly to lock the 23-year-old in as a long-term replacement for Aubusson.

Where that leaves the off-contract Angus Crichton is intriguing given his own impressive finish to 2020, the salary he arrived on from the Rabbitohs and the uncertainty around Cordner's long-term future.

With Tedesco, Keary, and Joey Manu, followed in time by Suaalii, Walker and Tupouniua, the Roosters won't be short of a marquee player or three for some time yet.

How Robinson manages a gradual changing of the guard from one generation to next, starting in earnest in 2021, will make for fascinating viewing.

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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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