Talking points ahead of Round 1
In just one week, the nerves will officially kick in for all rugby league supporters as the NRL Telstra Premiership kicks off for 2016.
For some, those nerves stem from the unknown. For others, it’s the weight of expectation.
Some people are sweating on the underachievement of previous seasons, while others are buzzing and basking in the glory of success.
When it comes to the Sydney Roosters upcoming campaign, there’s nerves and excitement, with some new recruits in key positions, some young talent on the rise and a level playing field in the NRL.
The NRL’s under-manned teams have improved, the strong teams remain strong and as a result, two competition points have never looked tougher to come across.
With a big 2016 coming up, let’s take a look at the big talking points of the season before kick off.
As the pre-season has progressed, talk of the youngsters in the Roosters squad has increased, and with good reason.
The NRL Auckland Nines was the first showcase for Roosters fans to witness the potential of some of these guys, showing that they are more than capable on a big stage in their first big test.
Latrell Mitchell was a strong performer for the Roosters, putting the Tricolours first points on the board first in all three games.
His strong pre-season and form in the Nines was rewarded with a start in the World Club Series match against St Helens at wing and his performance did no harm to his chances of playing first grade this season.
Joseph Manu is another young man that caught fans attention at the Nines, showing some razzle dazzle with his step, strength with his busts and polish on his finishing ability.
The Junior Kiwi is in a tough pool of talent with the likes of Daniel Tupou, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Joe Burgess in terms of backline spots available, but if he keeps working hard during the regular season, don’t be surprised if you see him out there sooner than later.
Another young gun working his way up the ranks is Vincent Leuluai, who put in an impressive performance at the Nines and played his first senior game against St Helens.
There have been a number of promising recruits in 2016, including Dale Copley and international winger Joe Burgess.
Dale Copley was unfortunate to sit out most of last season through injury, but was the leading try scorer for the Broncos in 2014.
Joe Burgess has established himself as a try scoring machine in the Super League.
He was the leading try scorer for Wigan last year and played for England in the UK Tour.
Jayden Nikorima impressed in his first game in Roosters colours, assisting in a couple of tries and impressing with his speed in the win over St Helens.
As for the players that have successfully made the transition to first grade already, there is still room for improvement in 2016.
Dylan Napa’s impressive form in 2015 saw him promoted to starting prop and looks likely to be there again in 2016.
His controlled aggression and impressive defence were on full display in the World Club Series, looking comfortable as ever playing alongside the man that partnered him in the Roosters Under 20s forwards just a few years ago, Kane Evans.
Evans played his first full year of first grade in 2016 and looked just as comfortable as you’d expect.
He played for the City Origin side under Brad Fittler last year and was called up to the World All Stars team as a result of his impressive 2015 form.
He was named Man Of The Match for his performance in the World Club Series and scored the first try of the match.
Sio Siua Taukeiaho will be a key contributor in the forwards after a stellar season in 2015.
His good form was rewarded with a call up to the Kiwis squad, and he'll be looking to build on that in 2016.
Isaac Liu also received a Kiwis call up last season, which has given the defensive minded forward plenty of confidence in the pre-season.
He played solid minutes in the World Club Series and got through a mountain of work in defence, showing just how effective he can be whether he is starting or coming off the bench.
The Roosters have shown some serious potential this pre-season, and there’s no doubt that if they can continue that form into 2016, they will once again be a force to be reckoned with.
With enthusiastic young talent coming through and impressive new recruits this season, the sky is the limit for the boys in red, white and blue.
It all starts next week with a big forwards battle against the South Sydney Rabbitohs on a Sunday afternoon at our house.
We need the Roosters fans there in numbers for a massive clash.
Remember the best way to watch your Roosters in 2016 is to become an official Member of the Club.
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