Lachlan Lam will start the season at halfback for the Roosters but another second-generation playmaker in Sam Walker is keeping the heat on, according to captain Jake Friend.
The son of club legend Adrian Lam impressed last season when given an opportunity in the No.7 jersey in round 13 when Kyle Flanagan was dropped, helping the side to a win over the Dragons.
However, he lasted just 28 minutes of his second game before a syndesmosis injury ruled him out for most of the rest of the season.
Now Lam has Walker, the son of former Broncos and Souths playmaker Ben, breathing down his neck. The more experienced Drew Hutchison and former Warrior Adam Keighran are also in the mix.
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"Lammy went really well in his few games last year and unfortunately got injured," Friend told NRL.com.
"At this stage, he's the first option but I'd say Sammy Walker is right there on his heels. Drew Hutchison too.
"Luke Keary's been playing with a lot of them and they've all been rolling in and out, it's been really good.
"It's good to see them all coming along the way they are, especially Lammy and Sam Walker. Drew's a bit older than them but Sam Walker, it's been tough for a lot of the boys that haven't played last year but they've really stepped in and gone hard at this pre-season after a long year of training and no games.
"It's good to see those guys having a crack. I think they're all looking forward to trials and a bit of footy."
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Friend also welcomed the return of injured pair Victor Radley and Sam Verrills, who each suffered season-ending ACL injuries in the same game last year – but wasn't confident either would quite make it back for round one.
"They're both looking good. It's going to be a massive boost for our squad to have them both back," Friend said.
"It's a long road for those boys with the knee, they spent a lot of time on their own and out of the group but it's awesome to see them back in here, being healthy and looking fit and getting back into footy. They're going to be a big part of how we go this year."
Friend was also relishing the prospect of getting back amongst it after enjoying a longer break thanks to his debut – and successful – Origin campaign at the end of last season.
The club staged an off-season camp in Mullumbimby in far northern NSW. There wasn't much talk about their poor finish to 2020.
"We weren't happy with the way we went out, going out in straight sets is really disappointing for us and not being there at the end hurts, it's tough to watch but it hasn't really been spoken about a whole lot," Friend said.
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"We've had some really good sessions up here [in Mullumbimby]. We've been doing some different things, a bit of cooking stuff, a bit of food stuff.
"There's a couple of boys that really like their food but aren't very good at preparing it.
"There's a bit of stuff with a local chef up here. We've actually got [celebrity chef] Matt Moran up here running us through a bit of produce at the market and some prep and some cooking so it's been awesome.
"You've got to break up these camps, they're hard footy wise but this sort of stuff breaks it up, a few different skills and a bit of light-hearted stuff is always good."
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