Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has expressed his pride in his fellow Roosters forwards after finally completing his comeback from the "hardest thing" he's been through in his career.
With representative stars Waerea-Hargreaves (ACL) and Boyd Cordner (pectoral) having a delayed start to the season the likes of Dylan Napa, Kane Evans, Issac Liu and debutant Eloni Vunakece were left to pick up the scraps for the Roosters in the opening two months of the season.
While their 2-7 start to the year shows it was hardly sunshine and lollipops for the Roosters, Waerea-Hargreaves said he was proud of the young forwards for getting stuck into opposition teams in the absence of himself, Cordner and star half Mitchell Pearce.
"To see them put on a couple of big performances the way they did was pretty awesome. With us boys coming back it's a healthy thing for our squad," Waerea-Hargreaves said.
"For them to continue the way they have been, it's only going to make us perform better so we can keep our spots. So it's been massive for those young boys to step up and done us proud and it's exciting we have our full strength team back on the park."
Napa in particular has been a rising star in the Roosters' pack and he said he had no other choice but to take on extra responsibilities in the opening nine weeks of the season.
After a huge 38-0 win over the Knights before the representative round break, Napa believes the week off came at an opportune time for the Roosters as they gear up for the Origin period.
"We started off rough but those were the cards we were dealt," Napa told NRL.com.
"We're looking to turn the page now and get on a bit of a roll from here. We have no excuse from now on in with the likes of Jared, Boyd and Pearcy back playing at 100 per cent.
"It's not pretty days yet. We're 2-7 so we're not seeing light at the end of the tunnel yet. We still know how much work we have to do to get to where we want to at the end of the year.
"Everyone is pretty keen to start where we left off against the Knights. It was definitely a step in the right direction especially seeing there was a zero on the board. We're the kind of team that doesn't care if we win 4-0 or 40-0 just so long there's a zero there."
Napa was ultimately pleased to have the likes of Pearce back in the fold too, someone he says has owned his mistakes over the course of the year.
"The three boys' presence on the field definitely helps some of the younger blokes though. Their seniority is definitely felt and with Mitchell being our halfback there was no secret we were missing him," Napa said.
"He's not shying away from the fact that he hurt us earlier in the season but he's been doing everything he can to help us. It's a credit to him for the way he's turned not only his football but his life around too."
This article originally featured on NRL.COM