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Combination and connection | Roosters set for Panthers showdown

The Sydney Roosters squad are one-track minded heading into Friday's Qualifying Final as they prepare for a showdown with the Penrith Panthers to kick off the 2020 NRL Finals series.

With a number of squad members back on deck and a battle on enemy soil, there's plenty of excitement within the playing group as a 1v4 clash looms. 

This week has been a fresh start for the Roosters, with players and coaching staff focused solely on the task at hand and ready to do whatever is necessary for the team. 

Unfocused on anything that's happened in the past, Head Coach Trent Robinson was particularly upbeat when discussing this time of year. 

"I love the challenge of it," Robinson said to the media on Thursday morning. 

"This is such an exciting time of year, this is where life gets lived, when you wake up and think about it every moment.

"It's hard to explain how enjoyable it is, it occupies every minute of thought in your mind and that's the beauty of it."

The Belief is High | Trent Robinson

Joseph Manu heads into Friday's Final firing and fresh after being left out of the line-up in Round 20, excited for a bruising encounter and an exciting centres match-up with Stephen Crichton. 

With four seasons of consistent first grade experience under his belt and a third consecutive Finals series, Manu knows the recipe that's required for the Tricolours to be at their best come Friday night. 

"We're taking it day-by-day and preparing well, working on the things we need to work on," Manu said.

"I think we've got to work on what we're good at. I felt like our defence, when we were rolling, was pretty good.

"If we can just get back to how we normally defend, we'll be firing for Friday."

Sonny Bill Williams is set for his return to the NRL Finals for the first time since 2014 and has been named to line-up in his fifth consecutive match for the Club in 2020. 

Williams is feeling match fit, excited and ready to go, but is adamant that the details are as important as ever when it comes to preparing for the NRL Finals. 

"When it comes to our principles and structures, I think you keep them in place, keep them intact," Williams said.

"It's the little things – the effort, getting back onside, putting pressure on their playmakers, things like that. It's the little things that probably punters don’t see on TV that make a big difference.

"I guess we do have that experience, but we can't rely on that either to get us a win. We just have to play our best footy. We know how good of a team we are."

Sonny Bill Williams celebrates a victory with Kyle Flanagan.
Sonny Bill Williams celebrates a victory with Kyle Flanagan.

If the odds and statistics have found themselves against the Tricolours, there's no interest from fullback James Tedesco. 

Set and prepared for his third consecutive NRL finals appearance, Tedesco is happy with whatever tag is thrown at his side heading into game one of their campaign. 

Tedesco expects that the target on his side will be present again on Friday, though the team has become accustomed to that treatment this season.  

"I'm not really thinking about statistics. It's good, it's good for us. If the odds are against us we'll take it.”

"We'll change those stats hopefully. I think as two-time premiers, everyone is going to come after us and wants to knock us off.

"It's been that way all year and everyone will keep doing it. It's nothing we're not used to.

"Now everyone is switched on and ready to go and play their best game. I'm pretty positive."

James Tedesco looking ahead to Friday's Qualifying Final.
James Tedesco looking ahead to Friday's Qualifying Final.

The forwards battle could be the most vital part of Friday's match, but returning lock forward Isaac Liu knows that's not what's important for the Roosters in lead-up to Friday's match. 

Focusing on the opposition is not the most important part of the preparation process, but rather paying attention to playing a Roosters style of football and seeking connection within the forward pack.

"It's definitely going to be a big challenge. They've got some experienced forwards there, big boys," Liu said.

"But again the focus is on ourselves and making sure our forward pack is ready, combinations are right, our connection is good."

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.