Why Liu willingly stepped aside for Cordner in Roosters grand final win
Roosters lock Isaac Liu played and trained hard the entire 2013 season but on the day of the grand final against Manly, he was dropped to make way for Boyd Cordner.
Cordner had been battling an ankle injury and had to pass a fitness test on game day to take his place in the No.13 jersey and the Roosters went on to beat the Sea Eagles 26-18 to win the club's 13th premiership.
"It was me and Dylan Napa on standby… it was a wait-and-see on whether Boyd would be good to go…. and he was," Liu told NRL.com as the Roosters prepared to meet the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
They are about to enter their fifth finals campaign in the six years Trent Robinson has been in charge. Liu made his Telstra Premiership debut in 2013 and has played in all four Roosters finals campaigns since – 2013, '14,'15 and '17.
But the Tricolours have only made one grand final in that time – and Liu missed out.
Bitter? Resentful? Sad?
"None at all… it is what is. And I enjoyed the grand final week tremendously," Liu said.
Rather than thinking his one and only shot at a grand final might have passed him by, Liu turns those emotions on their head.
"I look at it that if I hadn't been here with Trent I wouldn't be a NRL finals player anyway. I've been there four times. I can't wait for a fifth," he said.
"His coaching is really good. The boys understand what he wants and what is needed.
"The things he gives me – the details – on what he wants me to improve on is the type of feedback I need.
"I know I can approach him if I want to ask a few things. He understands all the players need some individual time so he’s able to give that. I really enjoy being coached by him."
Robinson told NRL.com it was one of the hardest things a coach has to do – sort out his grand final team knowing some players will be disappointed.
The fact Liu took his demotion with such good grace speaks volumes.
"That’s Isaac right there," Robinson said.
"He played 15 games in that year and was a huge contributor but we ended up a full squad for that day and obviously two guys – Isaac and Dylan Napa – just missed the cut on that final day.
"So it was really tough but they contributed just as much as anybody in that year."
Liu has upped the contribution in 2018. He has missed only one game this year and scored five tries, off the back of 21 tackle breaks.
Lock is his thing but he has also played second row and prop this year.
"From the outside you feel no one really talks about him but we value him highly in this place," Robinson said.
"He’s a details guy so he works really hard on every part of his game. He’s meticulous in his preparation whether it’s physical or mental or strategic-type stuff.
"He stands there in the tough times for the guys around him. So that’s why he’s really highly valued in our team, and we trust him in all different positions in the forward pack."