With the experienced Rooster set to play in his preferred spot of five-eighth, Roosters stalwart Braith Anasta is more excited about the kids they have coming through the ranks, and the enthusiasm that they exude, to play footy.
“The reason I’m excited is because there are a lot of young guys here who have come a long way and progressed well through the off-season.
“They finished last season well, and it’s exciting to see them put on weight and size and get faster and stronger.
“I’m talking about guys like Boyd Cordner, Lama Tasi, and Tautau Moga in the centres.
“We’ve got Mose Masoe, even Frank-Paul Nuuausala has improved.
“We’ve also got experience with our hooker in ‘Friendy’ (Jake Friend).
“He’s been one of our best players the last year or so, and there’s no doubt he’ll be playing Origin at some stage.
“And we’ve got ‘Pearcey’ (Mitchell Pearce) in the halves who already plays Origin.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys who have the potential, and I’m confident this year they can reach that potential.”
With the Roosters undergoing a minor re-shuffle, Anasta admits that the loss of Carney was a blow to their side, but that he is looking forward to getting back and playing in the pivot role for the Roosters.
“Todd is a huge loss, he’s a game-breaker and when he’s at his best he’s the best in the competition,” Anasta said.
“He was so valuable to the team. But I’m excited about getting back there.
“I really enjoyed playing in the back-row. I probably played some of my best football in the back-row because I concentrated on my own job, and there wasn’t as much responsibility there.
“But I love the challenges that comes with five-eighth and the freedom of being in a pivotal position where you get your hands on the ball more often. For me I want to do my job well but also support Pearcey as much as possible.
“If I can let him do his thing in the halves and let him control the team, I’ll be happy to take a back seat and make sure we get our game plan on.”
With Brian Smith at times somewhat reluctant to play juniors, given their rawness, for Anasta, it is simply a matter of when they play, not if.
“And I think there are some really exciting young players in the club this year,” Smith said. “Some might have to wait a year or two, but others will get their opportunities and hopefully they can grab it with both hands.
“Everybody has been talking about Tautau. He was fantastic in the junior reps, and in NYC last year. He now gets his opportunity this Sunday (in the Bulldogs trial), and we’ll see if he can play those back to back games, which is a big thing for an 18-year-old.”