The ever-changing landscape of the 2021 NRL season has forced a majority of the competition to relocate to Queensland for at least the next month, but Sydney Roosters Head Coach Trent Robinson says that his side is looking to thrive under adversity as they set up camp on the Sunshine Coast.
Having endured a turbulent season to date despite sitting in a respectable 5th position on the competition ladder, Robinson's Roosters will look to compound on their scrappy win against the Bulldogs in Round 17 as they head to Townsville to take on an equally motivated North Queensland Cowboys outfit.
Although their playing squad has hit a roadblock in terms of bringing in family members into the hub, the three-time Premiership winning coach is adamant that his side is well equipped to handle any situation.
“It was a bit difficult telling the players and the player having to tell their families,” he said.
“There’s a lot of emotion this week in the decision to move up here which is normal. A lot of decisions were made around that, and that either won’t happen or it’s been put on hold so that just shifts the guys again but it’s just something we’ll have to deal with.
If you want to be a great sporting team you have to be able to handle it no matter what the challenge is. It comes in all different forms, but you need to understand it, control it and channel it in the right way.Trent Robinson On the Club's relocation to Queensland
“There are lots of different stories there; two-week goodbyes could be two-month goodbyes for some people. It’s difficult, but we also know to continue to offer the livelihoods that we do to our families that we have to work.
“It’s only possible on a grand scale in Queensland at the moment, but we’ve got to get on the show.”
With a new environment comes new responsibilities and routines, and while Robinson would much rather be training out of their home base in Moore Park, he concedes that their newfound experience in the sunshine state is an opportunity for his men to galvanise and come together as one.
“It’s been really good collectively," he said.
“We’ve been setting our routines up and the things we value. We’re spending more time together, which there are some benefits from a footy point of view and a personal point of view. You’ve got to create your future by setting things up right.
“We’ve just got to make sure that first of all, you support each other. Then it’s about channelling it and dealing with more uncomfortable moments on the field during a season.
“If you want to be a great sporting team you have to be able to handle it no matter what the challenge is. It comes in all different forms, but you need to understand it, control it and channel it in the right way.
“You change the environment and you change the routines that you’re in, and then it’s about creating something that’s a real positive for your team. We saw it last year in the NRL and the AFL last year that we have to adapt well and create the habits to perform well.
“We’ve talked a lot to different people around moving into this environment and what was successful for them, and what created the right environment for them to play well. We’re looking to create the best environment."
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Consistency and building on newly formed combinations are at the top of the Head Coach's list of priorities when the Tricolours take on the Cowboys at 3pm this Saturday, in what will be an imperative match to dictate both side's seasons.
“We had to get over some hard games there,” he said.
“We got into a real tussle last week. Some of the foundation areas of our game were really good. We weren’t classy but we were strong in defence, which was much better. We had two kick tries there which we needed to stop, but we were much stronger in our line presence.
“I thought some of the forwards carried really well, and we had a couple of different combinations there. I wanted to see progression of combinations, and that’s why being here, having time together, time to talk and to hang out will be beneficial.
“I want to see a good foundation of our game with combinations improving each week. We’re really keen to build on last week, to keep building our season and to start off this hub period really well.
"We’re an hour closer, that’s the benefit. We know where we’re playing so we’ll get on with it."
Robinson also gave an update on youngster Joseph Suaalii, Siosiua Taukeiaho and his returning Origin representatives.
“We were doing some edge defence, and he (Suaalii) just stepped off it (his foot),” he explained.
“He didn’t think much of it, trained for another ten minutes. It wasn’t a major injury in the sense that he couldn’t finish the session, but because of his age and the tenderness of the lisfranc area and bone there that it needed to be repaired to secure that speed and power long-term.
“It was a simple decision. Joseph just wanted to continue on, but it will give him a chance to finish school, finish his studies and he’ll be right for pre-season.
“He (Taukeiaho) did his hammy in the Canberra game (Round 12).
“Because of our numbers and through Origin, he’s gone through three games carrying that. He’s shouldered the load whilst being at around 70% so he just needs some time to recover.
“They’re pretty good,” he said of Origin stars James Tedesco and Angus Crichton.
“Yesterday they walked in and had recovery. So we’ll see how they’re moving two days after. I’d say it will be pretty light for them, they’ve both got bumps and bruises but both good."
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