Roosters Head Coach Trent Robinson says he is excited to see new halves pairing Lachlan Lam and Luke Keary in action for the first time this week, and also endorsed Sonny Bill Williams as a future role in a coaching capacity.
Ahead of the Roosters' Round 1 clash with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday, Robinson answered a number of questions from the media regarding his side's preparations for 2021, particularly around the anticipated faster pace of the game.
"It's been great," he said of the pre-season.
"It's been exciting to spend some time with the guys, get them ready for the season, adapt to some changes and now it's time to get out and play some footy.
"I feel like you've got to make them (new rules) suit your style of play.
"It took some thought from the coaches in November when the season finished, and all staff - physical and coaching - and we took the discussion to the players and what they thought of it.
"They're the ones on the field, and we thought how we're gonna play and stick to our style of play. We're combining the Roosters with any new style of play that you want to add on, and let's see what you produce.
"It's an important focus, but you had to think about it and say, 'well what does this mean?'
"The game changed slightly last year, then they (NRL) decided to go and make some changes again, so you had to think about it. You had to spend some time on it, make a decision on how you're going to train and then how you're going to play towards it. Now it's time to put it on the park on Saturday for us.
"They've (Manly) got one player out but they've got a lot of other players that are in there and players returning so you do focus on yourself a lot and your season, but you understand the opposition.
Coach's Media - Round 1
"You respect the opposition and then you want to go after some things that you see in that opposition and you want to exploit, but you definitely focus on yourself to start the season."
With Lachlan Lam taking over as five-eighth with Luke Keary's move to halfback, the Roosters' mentor backed the Eastern Suburbs Junior to make a successful transition as a full-time starting player, while also dismissing any external expectations from swaying his team's focus.
"He's been a Cloey Croc (Clovelly Crodcodile) since he was a baby so he knows the Club and he knows what it takes to play in this Club," Robinson said of his new five-eighth.
"He's come through our junior system and he's trained with us a lot. He's been a very good player from a young age, playing Australian Schoolboys and the like, and he's really developed a lot over the last couple of years as well.
"I'm really looking forward to getting him out there and playing his style of footy, but it's also something that's been in his blood for a long time.
"I've definitely noticed it (external expectations) but it makes no difference on how you're going to attack the season and what your expectation is of yourself.
"Externally people will have their opinion, that's fine, it's our game.
"I believe in our team."
He's come through our junior system and he's trained with us a lot. He's been a very good player from a young age, playing Australian Schoolboys and the like, and he's really developed a lot over the last couple of years as well.Trent Robinson Roosters Head Coach on Lachlan Lam
The imminent move for Keary to halfback has been something that Robinson says he has been looking forward to and believes it will be a 'natural progression' for the three-time Premiership winner.
"He'll sort of look to dominate that side, he's spent a lot of time there," Robinson explained.
"I'm looking forward to him running the game. He's probably been running the game for a while in his eyes, but I'm looking forward to that move into the halfback role with the no.7 on his back and dominating the game.
"He's 28 now, we've seen him play amazing games over the years in a very dominant role. We don't want him to change who he is, but he also manages our games.
"He's also run the way our team has played, we're allowing him to continue to do that but do it with the no.7 - and allow some of the younger halves to come on and play that five-eighth role. That's his natural progression in the game.
With Club legend Sonny Bill Williams announcing his retirement from playing, Robinson endorsed the dual-international to make the transition to the coaches box as he continues to work with the Red, White and Blue in an off-field capacity.
"Sonny's been in twice now in the last two weeks," Robinson revealed.
"It's the end of a career for him - he spoke about it to me when he came back at the end of July last year when he started, he wanted to have a look at that and he's come back in to learn.
"He's going to do some media and some commentary, he's also going to fight and he's going to learn some of the coaching tools.
"I think it's natural for him. He's been singularly focused for such a long time to start to work out and then ask 'where's my next role in life?' as a father but then also as a job.
"A part of that is spending some time with us. He's definitely got the tools to be a coach - he's got presence, he's got game understanding in-depth and intuition in the game.
"It's whether he's going to overlay that with the work needed into stripping that all back and understanding the art of coaching which takes some time.
"The passion has been a driver for him for many years, so seeing where that passion lies over the next couple of years will be really interesting for us and him."
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