Roosters coach Trent Robinson insists the premiership is not a three-horse race but knows his side needs to keep improving heading into the finals.
The Roosters are currently in fourth place, but the three teams above them - Melbourne, Penrith and South Sydney - have broken away.
"We need to play really well and keep improving because we are on the way up," Robinson said. "We just need to accelerate quicker than the other teams."
Much has been made of the way that Robinson has rebuilt the Roosters on the run this season after the loss of Luke Keary, Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend, Brett Morris and Lindsay Collins due to injury or retirement.
However, the three-time premiership-winning coach said the likes of Sam Walker, Drew Hutchinson and Sam Verrills had never approached the season as back-up players and had seized their opportunities.
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Robinson has handed eight players their debuts this season and four of them - Walker, Fletcher Baker, Egan Butcher and Ben Thomas - are in the side to take on St George Illawarra at Toowoomba on Sunday.
"Usually you get those guys in and out but that is not our choice this year and I love the way that they have come in and played," he said.
"We have learned our lessons there in terms of how do you blood guys and not drop your quality."
Despite the large turnover of players, Robinson said the belief that the Roosters could win the grand final has never waned.
Even a 38-12 thumping by Penrith followed by a 46-0 loss to Melbourne in rounds 15 and 16 did not dent the confidence within the team.
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"This isn’t just the positive talk," Robinson said of his side’s premiership hopes.
"I definitely believe that we can, but we have to keep improving each week.
"We are not going to sit idle and wait for the finals. We need to have a great performance on Sunday.
"We feel like we have made up some ground, but we haven’t quite got there yet. We have got three more weeks to practice well to make up that ground, so the belief is still there."
The Roosters will be without star lock Victor Radley until the finals and while Robinson accepted that his attempted charge down in last weekend’s 21-20 defeat of Brisbane had been dangerous, he didn’t believe it warranted a three-match ban.
"They got the grading right on this. The way that Rads went in, it could have broken [Albert Kelly’s] leg basically on that shot and we have seen that cause some serious damage before," Robinson said.
"If he missed a week so be it. But to miss three, that says it should be looked at."
Radley's four previous charges this season meant he incurred a 110 per cent loading on the grade two dangerous contact charge, increasing the length of his suspension from one match to three.
However, with a large increase in the number of charges this season under the NRL crackdown on high contact, minor offences are leading to significant bans due to loading.
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"There are so many more charges than there used to be and the level of charges has gone up," Robinson said.
"Therefore guys are missing games that they shouldn’t. Radley should miss a week for that but it was an innocent charge down attempt that needed a better technique."
NRL head of football Graham Annesley said two weeks ago that repeat offenders would receive no leniency and risked being suspended from finals matches unless they changed their ways.