How the mighty have fallen: Rebuilding the Rooster


In search of their 1000th victory for what seems like years, the once mighty Sydney City Roosters are living in the NRL cellar and merely a shadow of their former selves.

One could only imagine the rage of chairman Nick Politis – watching his team get belted on a weekly basis, by now he could probably write a thesis as to why the Roosters aren’t performing. Change the coach? Done. Make positional changes? Done. Inject youth? Done. The result – continuing losses.

New coach Chris Anderson must be wondering what he got himself into; when looking at the Roosters line-up on paper – one can understand why Anderson accepted the job. Braith Anasta, Anthony Minichiello, Nate Myles, Craig Fitzgibbon, Amos Roberts and Craig Wing are just some of the talent at the coaches disposal.

The overall Rugby League program at the Roosters is rated among the best in the NRL. Former coaches such as Phil Gould and Ricky Stuart strived hard to implement structured development programs and successful training systems, while nurturing confidence and a winning mentality.

Sadly, the current form slump has seen these traits lost all too quickly. When you look at the basic formula for a successful Rugby League team – which is to have supreme talent at the 1, 7 and 9 (Fullback, Half and Hooker) the Roosters have been or are currently lacking in these areas.

While fullback Minichiello is considered one of the best in the role of custodian, he has seen a full season on the sideline – which is where the slump started. His return couldn’t come soon enough, having Mini back will help no one can do it on their own.

The hooking role at the Roosters has been shared around too much in recent times. Craig Wing is also known as a star in this slot, but the Roosters have tried throwing Finch into the role and countless others and this revolving door policy at hooker has also shot the team in the foot.

Finally the all important position of half-back has been shared around like a town bike. The Roosters have tried Finch, Soward, Lewis and now Mitchell Pearce at the all important no. 7 – with virtually no success.

These problems in the main positions are compounded when you look at some of the surrounding roles. Fitzgibbon the respected hardworking forward has become easy pickings for opposition defensive lines as his attacking style has become very one dimensional and less potent due to his extra tackling work and when you look out wider some of the backs in Roberts and Soliola struggle with decision making in some situations.

The Roosters have dug such a hole for themselves now that in some instances they are actualy trying too hard. Watching Braith Anasta last weekend against Manly, he tried his guts out – but there doesn’t seem to be the enjoyment there and hence passes were forced, kicking length was out and the communication just wasn’t there.

Chris Anderson would be looking everywhere for the answers and leaving no stone unturned. Maybe the Roosters should forget about training for a week to clear their minds totally of football – this might be the clarity they need.

One thing is for sure, if the answers aren’t found soon – the Roosters might not get win 1000 in this Rugby League year.

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Round 4 – Who will win?

Well NRL News struggled last week and missed out on several predictions. We will attempt to redeem ourselves here and aim for plenty of improvement in round 4 – here are the expert Rugby League tips from the NRL News team

Souths v Bulldogs: Souths to keep their streak alive and beat the Dogs in a heavy forward battle.

Roosters v Broncos Both teams winless with their 2007 Rugby League campaign. Very tough to call but I think the Roosters lack firepower in attack. The Broncos should take the cake.

Knights v Storm Knights coming off a big loss will be keen to avenge their disgrace against Canberra. But the power of Melbourne is strong – you simply cannot tip against the Storm. Storm to win.

Cowboys v Tigers Tigers still winless and rudderless. Cowboys in a canter.

Eels v Raiders Eels at home face a fancied Raiders side that smacked the Knights last week. I think the home crowd and little confidence lift for the Eels should get them home. Eels.

Manly v Warriors Warriors still haven’t proved they can win away from NZ. Manly should do the job here.

Penrith v Titans Penrith will have too much confidence here. Penrith safely.

Sharks v Saints The local derby. Both teams fielding young sides. I think the Sharks will want this more after last weeks showing. Ricky will have them primed. Sharks in a close one.

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So, who can’t make the Final 8 in NRL 2007 ?

Ok, so we are only into the 3rd round of Rugby League for 2007 – but already we are able to see some small trends and get an idea of the formidable Rugby League teams for this year.

The best way to dertermine the final 8 – is to eliminate the teams who you think ‘cannot’ realistically make the finals cutoff.

As we look at the lower ranked teams so far; Sydney Roosters, Parramatta, Cronulla, Tigers, Raiders, Titans, Saints and Brisbane – which of these teams can realistically compete with the big boys? It’s really only the Brisbane Broncos who can be confident of breaking the shackles and forcing themselves into the top 8 come finals time.

That leaves 7 teams who don’t look like making the 8, and means we need to find another team to miss out.

The Roosters have no direction and simply have to many rookies to successfully make the finals, Parramatta Eels are lacking forward power and depth; they may improve their scrumbase combination over the coming weeks but forwards are key, so the Eels will miss the cut. Cronulla don’t have the big names to get them into the finals, Kimmorley and Dykes aren’t dominating because the forwards aren’t laying the platform, shoddy defence – no finals. Tigers were originally predicted by NRL News to make the finals; but poor results have seen their stature shattered – with the Tigers looking a shadow of their former 2005 selves – bye bye. The Raiders showed they can turn it on this week, by pounding the Knights – but their form and depth over the season surely is questionable. Don’t think so. The Titans are the new kids and have their first win on the board, but nervous attack and awfully low depth will see them exit stage left before finals time. Maybe next year. St George Illawarra were looking the goods before the season started, as always – but losing Gaz for the year and seemingly having millions of talent always injured they won’t make the finals in 2007. Sorry boys. And finally the last early leaver pass must go to the Warriors. The Warriors were electric in their 2 home games so far – killing off the Eels with ease and smashing the Broncos. However, their ability to travel still remains under a cloud and this factor along with shallow depth if injuries strike will see them hit mad Monday early in 2007.

That leaves a final 8 make up of:

Melbourne
Brisbane
Knights
Souths
Manly
Bulldogs
Penrith
North Queensland

That’s how we see things shaping up, and of course it’s only round 3 so don’t get too excited or disheartened about your team.

Enjoy your NRL Rugby League and keep the comments coming in.

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Round 3 NRL Wrap-Up

Well what a feast of Rugby League was served up in Round 3 of the NRL. We had two golden point cliff hangers on Friday night with the Eels and Panthers sneaking home.

Eels: Finally saw some luck fall their way. While no where near their best, a strictly refereed game by veteran Steve Clark – saw thousands of penalties given. This stop-start type of game suited the Eels much more than the Tigers. The Eels will gain some confidence from this win, and will need it as they face the newly fancied Raiders side this weekend.

Tigers: Played well in patches, with impressive attack sequences – albeit with poor final pass options. Their discipline will need a massive overhaul this week, on and off the field. Will be happy to get Paul Whatuira back into the side – but they face a massive task in taking on the Cowboys. They will need to hone their wrestling skills and stop the speed of Thurston and the Bowen boys or it’s shut the game for the game and makes their first win seem so much further away.

Penrith Panthers: Some hot attacking play over the past two weeks has seen the Panthers bury the Dogs and just clip the Broncos. Lacking a little ball control and patience, the Panthers seem to be developing well under Matty Elliott. Their defence is improved on last year and the new guns – Peter Wallace, Michael Gordon and Michael Jennings all looking to be viable future options for the club.

Brisbane Broncos: Simply amazing that last years premiers are winless after three rounds. Surely last weeks last second loss would kill any inkling of confidence. The Broncos look to be structured well in attack and defence but have dropped plenty of ball and lacked the usual discipline expected from a Bennett coached side. Lucky for the Broncos they face the wooden spoon specials, the Roosters this week. A perfect remedy for any side out of form.

Bulldogs: The Dogs won without being great in Round 3. Getting a grinding win under their belts against the Gold Coast Titans. Shrek is playing the house down, and he obviously wants his new contract badly. Will be happy to get Shifty back in the halves to assist with cohesion in attack. Will grow an extra leg each week

Souths: Well the Bunnie bandwagon rolls on. Simply stunning Rugby League from the new NRL powerhouse. The Irvine try was pure excitement as they turned it on against a shoddy Sharks side at Toyota Park. The previously staunch Cronulla defence instilled by Ricky Stuart was goneski’s – as the Sharks leaked like a beachfront house in the Solomon Islands. Souths are gaining massive momentum and will be up for the big Dogs clash this week. Willie v Kidwell / Asotasi will be champagne stuff.

Roosters: Hard to find any positives here. Did look to give up against the Sea Eagles. Never looked to test in attack. Have some good kids coming through in Kenny-Dowell and Pearce but some old heads need some spark. Some of the older bridgade here at the Roosters have become very 1 dimensional and are easy pickings for opposition defence lines.

Cowboys: The North Queensland boys kept their slick style up against the Dragons, and even without Jason Smith – looked to constantly break the line. Thurston is simply in a world of his own and unmatched in the NRL at present. The Cowboys did however go to sleep in the second half and lacked discipline. Some cracks for other teams to work on: O’Donnell is a firey chracter and in a ‘timebomb mode’ much like Danny Williams for Melbourne some years ago, it’s only a matter of time until this guy kills someone. If sledged, might prove useful to opposition. Thurston is also the centrepiece of the attack – stop him and you go a long way to slowing the machine.

Raiders: Well Well, everyone’s tip for the spoon. Neil Henry must be drinking champagne from his ACT Spa Room at present. The young lads from Canberra turned it on last night against the Knights. Not only beating them well, but some of the tries laid on looked like the Green Machine from yesteryear. Mullins and Daley eat your heart out stuff. Be interesting to see how they build on this. Forwards were rock solid, Logan and Costigan were downright scary and smashed the Knights around. In the backs, Zilman and Chalk were elusive and safe and of course Dobson ran the whole circus around very well. Watch with interest.

Manly: The good old Silvertails have been winning, but winning ugly. Haven’t really hit top gear year yet and other teams must be weary when they do. Monaghan has been brilliant for the Eagles and basically deserves credit for getting them 2 of the 3 wins. Lyon still finding his feet. Once Orford, Menzies and Matai back – look out! Only fault may lie in the forwards – Rose prone to dropping the pill and others may lack agression.

Warriors: Tasted only their first loss of the year, but played Melbourne at the Graveyard. A very hard ask of any Rugby League team. Will lick their wounds and hopefully bounce back. Big question mark remains over their ability to travel. If they can get comfy with flying everywhere, then we’ll see them in the top 8 if not top 4. Should be a good clash against Manly at Brooky – will test Warriors ability to sleep away from home again.

Titans: Still a few questions marks over the new boys. Some cracks appeared in their behaviour on the weekend, with Minichiello giving away some silly penalties. Need some more options in the forwards. Bailey carrying the team on his back. Face a tough task this weekend against Penrith at CUA stadium. In their games, they have been chasing points for a lot of the game – if they can get a leg up early, might see them play a more natural style. Rogers needs more involvement, as younger players will need his guidance and experience.

Cronulla Sharks: Some real concerns for the Sharks in the last two weeks. Throwing a lead away against the Titans and then throwing everything away against the Bunnies. Got burnt in all departments against the Rabbitohs. Need to rectify their defence and reduce pressure on Kimmorley. Dykes was missed. Simmon’s wasn’t the answer at fullback. Carney showing good signs but needs some support. Playing at home to the Saints this week, a good chance to find some form against the young Dragons.

St George Illawarra Dragons: The Dragons fought hard late against the Cowboys and some good signs were seen from Ritchie Rich Williams and the young brigade. Simply outgunned by the Cowboys with a more experienced and dangerous roster. Will get better with more game time, but face a desperate Sharks outfit at Toyota Park this weekend.

Knights: Big speed hump last night in Canberra – got railroaded by the young brigade that is Canberra. Will recover as Johns gets more ball time, Mullens and Gidley relaxed too much knowing Joey was back. Forwards lacked punch, and Davico was the wrong option up front. Brian Smith will be cooking up a masterplan for taking Melbourne down this week.

Melbourne: Not a lot to say here, the Melbourners keep doing everything right. Slater and Co keep pulling rabbits out of hats and every cog in the Melbourne machine is performing at their Rugby League peak. Have plenty of depth and their only concern is boredom as they win every game on their way to the finals. Big one this week against the Knights.

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NRL News Rugby League Upgrades
Sorry for the delay in NRL updates and Rugby League articles this weekend, however it’s for a good cause!

NRL News is moving to bigger and better premises and with the assistance of new sponsors we have been able to roll-out a much larger internet feed and bring onboard several new staff members.

Welcome to the following new NRL News employees: Peter Roy, John Chelsea and Peter Anthony – who have been avid Rugby League writers and followers for many years and join the fast growing NRL News team.

Please bare with us for the remainder of this week, until we are completely setup in the new environment – which should be on Good Friday – 6th April 2007. Regards, The NRLnews.com Team

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Raiders run Rampant
Raiders 48 flog Knights 18

A young and confident Canberra Raiders side have jumped into the winners circle with a rampant 48-18 victory over the Andrew Johns-led Newcastle Knights tonight.

In front of a bumper home crowd, the Raiders showed even more improvement on their round 2 effort against the Storm, converting a 4-point halftime lead into a 30-point drubbing, all but erasing memories of their heavy loss to the Knights at home last year.

The Raiders were led around the park superbly by their young halves combination of Michael Dobson and Todd Carney, with rising star William Zillman continuing his remarkable strike rate against the Knights with a hat-trick of tries.

Up front it was Dane Tilse again leading the way for the Green Machine, while Neville Costigan, Trevor Thurling and Ben Jones were all outstanding in what was a great team effort.

The result gives Alan Tongue his first NRL victory as captain of the Raiders.

CFMEU Canberra Raiders 48 (William Zillman 3, Marshall Chalk, Lincoln Withers, Scott Logan, Colin Best, Phil Graham tries; Michael Dobson 8 goals) d. Newcastle Knights 18 (Adam Macdougall, Milton Thaiday, Cory Paterson tries; Andrew Johns 3 goals) at Canberra Stadium

Referee: Ben Cummins

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Manly motor over sloppy Syd-City
Manly 30 defeated Sydney Roosters 8

Matt Orford must be a worried man, as he sits injured on the sidelines – the Manly Sea Eagles have gone from strength to strength; crushing the Roosters in their latest romp.

The Eagles are playing like millionaries and so they should, firing on all cylinders and full of confidence the silvertails are looking the goods.

Today they simple took the life out of the Roosters. Wave after wave of pressure and relaxed cohesive attack was the order of the day, with the Roosters simply trying to hard and throwing away their slim attack chances.

Such was the skill across the park for the Eagles, that Jamie Lyon only had a small impact in the game and regular faces Monaghan, Burns and Choc Watmough ran riot over the still winless Roosters.

Combinations and timing is getting by the week for the Eagles and Hasler must be happy with overall progress. Big things can be expected of the boys from Brooky as they slip into gear in NRL 2007.

For the Roosters, there wasn’t even a positive to take away from Aussie stadium clash. Soft on-line defence, poor handling and set completion and non-threatening attack will have Nick Politis on the phone to Chris Anderson all week.

Braith Anasta did try everything today, but lacked support and sadly for the Roosters – veteran Craig Fitzgibbon is not the attacking weapon he once was. While he continues to make his bag full of tackles a game, he simply is one dimensional in attack and is easy pickings for agressive defence lines.

Even with Amos Roberts, Mini, Myles and of course Anasta – the big name Roosters aren’t producing at all and will surely be fighting it out with Parramatta, Tigers, Raiders and Cronulla for the wooden spoon in the NRL this year.

After 3 rounds, this is how I see the teams. Making the 8: Melb, Cowboys, Manly, Knights, Souths, Warriors, Penrith, Bulldogs – Missing out: Tigers, Saints, Cronulla, Raiders, Syd City, Parra, Broncos, Titans.

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Bulldogs finally register a win for 2007
Bulldogs 22 defeated Gold Coast Titans 6

The Dogs have finally registered a win for 2007 after eventually getting some momentum late in their Round 3 clash with the Gold Coast Titans.

The game was initially an arm wrestle with both teams lacking polished attack and showing ill-discipline in defence. But the Bulldogs began to strike some form, and the comfortable win in the end will do wonders for their low confidence.

Forwards Mason and O’Meley showed some physical prowess to rattle the smaller Titans pack and strike fear into the opposition at times. It was the hard stuff by the Dogs forwards that allowed Cutler and Tonga to finally weave some magic on the fringes. Cutler showed some great signs in defence and attack and will be a future weapon for the Dogs.

Tonga showed glimpses of his best, but is still under an injury cloud and certainly not the rep player he was a few years ago.

For the Titans, this setback will dent their confidence and next week is crucial for them. They need to ensure they improve attacking decision making and learn to build pressure rather than trying to score on every play.

I thought Gavin Badger the referee had an impressive game and looks to be one of the in form ref’s so far this year.

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Sunday NRL Rugby League

Storm kill off NZ Pretenders
Storm 30 def NZ Warriors 12

The Melbourne Storm have shown they are the real deal again in 2007 by crushing a previously undefeated NZ Warriors outfit today at Olympic Park. The Warriors have again failed to travel away and take a win and go back to the drawing boards for future away games. Melbourne Storm meanwhile are into the full swing on NRL in 2007 and again look like a well oiled machine. Click here for full review.

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Super Saturday NRL Rugby League

The Bunnies bounce on in 2007, with another win in their historic NRL season. The Rabbits are now 3 wins from 3 games and looked dynamic at Shark Park in disposing of the flimsy Sharks. Ricky Stuart will be busy this week patching up the leaks in the line as the Sharks slip to 1 from 3 this year. Click here for full review.

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