Behind-the-scenes work paying off for Verrills

Young Roosters hooker Sam Verrills says a season spent building combinations between the senior stars and depth players is behind the success of players including himself and Drew Hutchison.

The 20-year-old had arguably his best NRL game in Saturday night's 22-6 win over the Panthers at the SCG, with an impressive 80 minutes of defence and crisp service punctuated by a try and a try assist.

Hutchison was also steady coming in for Cooper Cronk, showcasing a reliable kicking game in support of Luke Keary as the Roosters booked a top-two finish despite the absence of three senior players.

"We play on the weekend but we train all week," Verrills said, thankful for the faith shown in him by coach Trent Robinson.

"Robbo puts everyone in to get a feel and get the combinations working in the case of injuries and suspensions or whatnot.

"All year pretty much from the pre-season to now, we're always working on combos with players who aren't playing, players who are playing.

"It really pays off when you've got players like Drew that come in. For me coming in as well and having that connection straight away with the team, it's amazing."

Verrills had particular praise for Hutchison in what was the 24-year-old's third game back in the NRL after a stint in the UK.

He had previously had a promising Dragons career cut short by a pre-season ACL injury in 2017 after just four NRL starts.

"He went over to Leigh last year and he came back over here for an opportunity and he's grabbed it with both hands," Verrills said.

"He's a great guy, Drew, and I just love playing footy with him. He's been killing it this year, even away from NRL he's been playing really good, controlling footy with the Bears [in Canterbury Cup NSW]."

Robinson praised both players following Saturday night's win.

"I thought Sam played really well ... the try in the first half under the posts and the short pass to Latrell on the left-hand side, then just his consistent service and work around the ruck was really good," Robinson said.

"Drew Hutchison came on and did a great job, he looked at home pretty quickly filling in Cooper's spot.

"He allowed us to keep everybody in their positions and play their role and I thought that was really good."

Overall, Verrills was more pleased with his defensive efforts than his try assist or try, which he insisted was "lucky" after spotting James Tamou moving up too quickly from the Panthers' try-line.

"It's rewarding getting those tries and try assists but you really want to build your game on defence and I thought I did that," he said of his 50-tackle effort.

"It was a good win really, last week against the Dragons we only played one half. We came out really wanting to focus on an 80-minute performance. It was rewarding to play the full 80 minutes and get the win.

"If Robbo gives me the opportunity to go again next week [against Souths] I can't wait, it's a massive rivalry in the game. It's a week out from the finals so it's good to get your combos and everything a little bit sharper."