It might only be another pre-season trial game, but Braith Anasta has confirmed the Roosters need to win the Foundation Cup against the Wests Tigers or risk entering the 2009 NRL season as damaged goods.
While trial results aren’t always important, after the Roosters were flogged by the Dragons last week – they want to get their heads in the right place before the season proper kicks off.
Losing 54-6 loss to the Dragons wasn’t the ideal start for the tri-colours.
While they didn’t have their regular first grade forward pack available last week – Braith Anasta still feels another loss like that could really mentally damage his side for the season ahead.
â€œWe went inÂ a bit negative … St George came out pretty fired up and took it you could say more serious than us, which is pretty poor” said Anasta
â€œThat’s what makes this game more important for us, we’ve got to make sure we improve on that last performance”
â€œMy responsibility in this game is to try and get our team back on track, make sure that we get some confidence and some good football under our belt before we play the first game.â€
While fielding a much stronger side, the Roosters will still be without the services of Willie Mason, Setaimata Sa and Iosia Soliola who remained sidelined with injuries.
But Wests too have named a quality side, with hope that injured star Robbie Farah can be on deck for the game also. Coach Sheens would naturally want to give Farah some game time prior to the NRL season kickof, not only to give the player some ball handling time – but to test new combinations in the side before things get serious.
While not named in the squad, some punters expect Farah could be rolled out at some stage in the game.
â€œHe’s been training”confirmed Sheens
â€œIf he does participate it’ll just be at the back end of the game, just a little bit of time – so we’ll wait and see.”
While Anasta wants the confidence a win brings, his opponent Benji Marshall said their goal was more around locking down new pairings and combinations for 2009.
Wests Tigers were successful in their first hitout against Souths, but again it comes down to building combinations said Marshall.
â€œI don’t think winning’s too much of a factor” Marshall said.
â€œYou can play well and just get beaten which is sometimes alright – that’s what these games are for, you practice what you’ve been doing in the pre-season and work on a few new things and see what works and what doesn’t.”
Interestingly, Roosters coach Freddy Fittler has opted to keep rookie Ben Jones in the five-eighth position – leaving Anasta at lock. Many felt that after such a hiding last week, the initial plan to relocate Anasta might be scrapped.
The Roosters hold big hopes for rookie Jones; still only 18 – he has impressed at all levels and the tri-colours believe he is a future star. After tasting first grade last year, he came through with flying colours and with more game time and confidence should develop even faster in 2009.
Fittler confirmed the skills and committment shown by Jones have basically forced him to pick the rookie in the side, with Freddy believing he will earn a decent amount of first grade time in the weeks ahead.