Forward enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is anticipating a hungry and determined Sydney Roosters to take the NRL by storm for season 2021 and called on the Tricolours faithful to prepare themselves for a big year.
Now in his 12th season at the Club, the uncompromising front-rower reminisced on his first pre-season, citing the difference between the youngster who walked through the doors back in 2010 to the man who now leads the engine room week-in-week-out.
“I think preparation as a full-time professional has been the difference between my first pre-season and now over the last twelve years," he explained.
"Every single day in a pre-season there's the mental and physical challenges with food, hydration and sleep, there's so much you need to care for.
“Back in the day you didn’t really focus as much, I guess you learn along the way but as you get older you find out what works and what doesn’t, and you stay in your lane.
We’re excited to have our Members and supporters back at our home games and everywhere else. Be excited with us, we’re on a good path.Jared Waerea-Hargreaves Roosters Front Rower
"That’s some of the advice as a leader I want to give these younger guys, and it’s gotten a lot more demanding with each pre-season. As leaders, we need to make sure you’re pushing these guys in the right direction and helping them make the right decisions."
A veteran of 237 NRL matches which has reaped three Premiership victories, four Minor Premierships and three World Club Challenge wins, as well as 32 Tests for New Zealand, the Tricolours' fearsome leader has understandably found himself in a leadership and mentoring role over a number of years.
Although he is far from the first person to admit it, Waerea-Hargreaves is one of the cornerstones of the Roosters' pack - but the 32-year-old was quick to point out the wealth of leadership that the Club has throughout the squad.
“Everyone has a vital leadership role in our team," Waerea-Hargreaves stated.
"For me, it’s just about doing what I do best. If it means giving advice every single day to these younger guys, I’m more than happy to do so.
“I think it comes with playing here for a while, I enjoy mentoring and leading these guys but I know everyone here has a leadership role within our team.
“I’ve watched most of these young guys come through the grades. I’ve watched Isaac Liu play under 20s and he’s been at the Club for nearly ten years. Victor Radley, Sitili Tupouniua, Nat Butcher - all these guys have come through the grades and established themselves as really consistent first-graders.
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“It’s really exciting to see where our Club is heading towards but I also remind myself where it’s at now. We get along really well with one another, we’re tight and we’ve always been tight, but what we’ve been through together is pretty special."
As they finalise their first pre-season in Australia in two years, Waerea-Hargreaves says that the squad has taken the harsh lessons learned from 2020 as they prepare to run head-on into 2021 in front of the loyal Roosters Members and fans.
“We learned a lot through last year. It’s definitely motivating this pre-season, but I’m really excited for ’21," he claimed.
“I’ve been counting down each day, each week and each month and I’m looking forward to the challenges. We’re a close, tight-knit group and as a collective, we’re excited to go into 2021 head-on.
“We’re very grateful for having the support we’ve had over a number of years. Last year was a challenge in itself, but everyone had to adapt.
“We’re excited to have our Members and supporters back at our home games and everywhere else. Be excited with us, we’re on a good path.”