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Roosters five-eighth Drew Hutchison.

Drew Hutchison is comfortable in the hot seat as he and teenage halves partner Sam Walker look to guide the depleted Roosters through the pointy end of the season.

Five weeks back from broken ribs and a punctured lung, Hutchison is playing with confidence having already racked up 14 games in 2021 - one more appearance than he made in the four years prior.

After a 28-0 win over the Eels last round, Hutchison is raring to go for Saturday night's challenge against the second-placed Panthers.

"I suppose every year that you sign with a club and you're training with them, the goal is to be pushing to start each week and to really contribute to the success of the team," the former Dragon said.

"It's no different this year. I've really enjoyed my time and enjoyed playing. I want to really contribute towards the back end of the season and into the finals series.

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"One of the goals for me was to continually keep getting better and better and work on my own performances, but the way the team's been playing is really helpful for me to come back in and do my role."

Despite the scary nature of the injuries he suffered against Parramatta in round nine - resulting in a hospital stint - Hutchison didn't experience any trepidation about returning to the NRL arena.

"The way the rehab's done these days, sometimes the training sessions you go through before you're back playing are just as hard as the games, if not harder," the playmaker said.

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"The confidence you take out that you can get through that and excel through those training sessions, it certainly puts you in a good position to play well on the weekends."

While the Roosters are missing some big guns, Hutchison paid tribute to their healthy stars like James Tedesco, Joey Manu and Daniel Tupou.

Manu, who recorded 331 metres on the wing last weekend, has been exceptional bouncing around in different positions.

"It's no surprise, he's been doing this for four or five years now, since he started playing in the NRL," Hutchison said of Manu, who will return to his regular centre position this weekend.

"He's a freaky player and I think his unpredictability for the opposition, it makes him such a threat.

"You don't know what he's going to do. He's got all the skills and as a teammate of his, it's just such a pleasure to have someone like that, knowing he can come up with a big play at any minute of the game.

"He's a special player and I think the fans love watching him and all the players love playing with him."

With their backline stocks further thinned by a hamstring injury to veteran centre Josh Morris, who isn't scheduled to return until the finals, the Roosters have signed Dale Copley from the Broncos.

Copley played with the Tricolours in 2016.

"It was only his first day yesterday, but it was awesome to see Dale again back in the squad," Tupou said.

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"Obviously, he's experienced ... there's a bit of leadership there also and it's good to see a familiar face. That's a good signing for us for the rest of the year."

As the Roosters prepare for a Penrith team also dealing with a heavy injury toll, second-rower Angus Crichton has been buoyed by the progress of his club's developing players.

"Seeing those younger guys that have started to find their feet in first grade express themselves and play some quality football, it takes some pressure off the big names like the Tedescos and the Daniel Tupous, so they can go and play their own style of football," he said.

"I think we all know that young guys coming into first grade, it's not going to happen overnight. Confidence is something that you gain through training and then through repping it out in the games."

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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