A roving role for Luke Keary has the potential to make James Tedesco even more lethal in 2021 as Trent Robinson bids to gain a tactical advantage over his rivals once more.
The Roosters are chasing rather than defending a premiership for the first time in three campaigns, with Keary ascending to the No.7 jersey and a much-talked about right-side shift.
Against a listless Manly left-edge the results made for the biggest round one win in the Roosters 113-year history.
Seven of the nine tries came via combinations of Keary, Tedesco, Sitili Tupouniua, Joey Manu and Brett Morris.
The Roosters could only play what was in front of them but they duly shot a badly outgunned Sea Eagles defence to pieces.
Match Highlights: Roosters v Sea Eagles
Fresh from a 52-minute hat-trick and a hand in two more tries, two-time Dally M winner Tedesco said Keary's new role had eased pressure on him, in turn allowing the game's best fullback to pick and choose his moments in even more dangerous fashion.
"Last year I tried to take control a lot more and I probably don't need to that this year," Tedesco said.
"I can sort of let the boys play and just do my role and not try and overplay that. I'm really comfortable with that.
"Sometimes in pre-season, I feel like I put too much pressure on myself to try and be a leader, try and do this, try and do that.
Keary off the hip to Tupouniua
"Kez [Keary] and I talk about connecting up as much as possible. I think when us two have our hands on the ball often that's when we're pretty dangerous.
"I don't feel like I was going right more, it's just how the game went, but I'm telling Lamy [Lachlan Lam] to get on the ball because that's when he's most dangerous and Keary can take control."
Keary said the right-edge is where he feels most comfortable in defence after years of playing on the left and linking devastatingly with Boyd Cordner's pinpoint hole running.
With Lam a running half as opposed to Kyle Flanagan's game-management focus, Robinson has given Keary licence to play what he sees in response to where he sees NRL playmaking heading.
"[Keary] is a footy player. His ability to go wherever he wants, that’s up to him,” Robinson said.
"I think we’re moving out of the age of left and right halves more and more and having halves that can move all over the park is a strength needed going forward.
Roosters attack starts to hit overdrive
"His ability to do that, Lachie's ability to move with him and Teddy as well, and then feel where the crease is going to be in the opposition and attack that."
While NRL Stats show Lam handled the ball 70 times compared to Keary's 60 touches against Manly, their respective pass to run ratio (Keary 4.89 passes for every run, Lam 12.6) tells the tale of how the attack actually played out.
Victor Radley's eventual return from his ACL injury and NRL suspension will add a critical mid-field ballplaying option and another facet to the Roosters' attack.
Expectations on the hard-hitting lock will be tempered though by the usual few months it takes for a player to regain confidence and top form after a knee reconstruction.
Jake Friend's ongoing concussion concerns and Sam Verrills own slow-burn return from a similar ACL rupture ensures Keary takes even more focus under the new six-again rules.
Rolling off the back of a mobile pack and middle power game, the Roosters edge runners Angus Crichton, Tupouniua, Manu and Josh Morris then come to the fore with Tedesco chiming in as he pleases.
Ruthless right side conjures another Brett Morris try
"I think we can take a bit of pressure off Teddy... we don't want him to burn himself too much," Keary said.
"That's our style. We've always played a bit of a power game through the middle and have had the outside backs to take advantage of the opportunities.
"It's no secret, when we're playing good footy, we're moving through the middle.
"I know now being on the right, I'm going to be there but I'm going to have eyes on the left because that's the natural way I drift. I am going to play my normal game and pop up whenever there is an opportunity."
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