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Decade-long friendships driving premiers' three-peat quest

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves only had to glance over his shoulder and refer to Boyd Cordner when pressed on what is driving the Roosters for a third consecutive title beginning on Saturday night.

Cordner, who will be eased into the season as his workload is managed by the club, is one of four players still at the club from 2010 when Waerea-Hargreaves made his debut.

Between the pair they share three premierships and Waerea-Hargreaves didn't hesitate when asked why the Roosters remained hungrier than ever.

Roosters co-captain Jake Friend and veteran Mitch Aubusson are also in the same boat.

"I look at a teammate like Boyd and I would assume it's mutual but we would do anything for each other and have been like that for a long time," Waerea-Hargreaves told NRL.com.

"We're in a system that works and know it takes hard work. It's cool when you watch your mate next to you having your back and busting their arse for you to achieve success too.

"We walked in on day one when some of the boys started in January and it was pretty easy for us to be brought back down to reality and work hard.

Panthers v Roosters - Round 1

"We're honest amongst each other and it starts from our coaches. The challenge of going for another title is what makes it exciting."

On the eve of the season opener against Penrith, Waerea-Hargreaves reckons he's only watched a replay of last year's grand final win against the Raiders twice.

The first encounter was at a pub in the aftermath of the premiership celebrations and the other viewing was for a Fox Sports show filmed over the summer.

"It's not a dream for me, we lived it and sometimes a lot of people get caught about dreaming but it takes a lot of hard work and because of that I live in the moment," Waerea-Hargreaves said.

Round 1 to go ahead, Round 2 behind closed doors after Coronavirus outbreak

"We're honest amongst each other and it starts from our coaches. We don't want to be complacent or satisfied with what we have when we can chase more.

"I want to strive to be better both on and off the field. It's simple, the past is the past and 2020 is an exciting year for everyone. For us it's a challenge we're looking forward to.

"When you know every team is going to want to play well against you it doesn't take much to get up for a game.

"You don't have to worry about the younger guys because they're already there.  We've got some young guys in the forward pack that have developed into good NRL players.

"Lindsay Collins, Nat Butcher and Sitili Tupouniua – they got a good taste and now is a good time for them to express who they are.

"Sam Verrills had a hell of a year last year and we'll still be driving the same standards for all those boys to do well again this season."