Both Nat Butcher and Adam Keighran say they are thriving under the extra responsibility in the last few months as they look to continue their momentum heading into this Sunday's match against the St George Illawarra Dragons in Toowoomba.
With Keighran the hero as he kicked the winning penalty goal in the final minute of play, the 24-year-old divulged into the moment and the practice that has taken him from budding goal kicker to the Roosters' first-choice sharpshooter in 2021.
“It’s something that I’ve dreamt of as a kid so to be able to execute it and put it into an NRL game, it’s a pretty cool feeling," he admitted.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking, I will admit. The crowd was a bit louder than I expected them to be but I was quietly confident because I had made the previous kicks in the game.
“It’s getting all the practice that I put into it as a kid into play. I couldn’t tell you how many kicks I’ve done in practice or how many hours I’ve spent on a field to get this opportunity, but I think that’s the best part. I don’t feel a whole lot of pressure in doing it.
“I reckon if I had missed a couple there would be a few more nerves than what I had but it was pretty cool to execute something like that on the big stage so I’m pretty happy with it.”
Round 23 Media - Nat Butcher
Now playing in the centres after filling in the halves and at hooker through the majority of the season, Keighranhas found his place at the Roosters and has benefitted from the advice of one of the game's most experienced three-quarters in veteran Josh Morris.
“I’ve sort of been on the fringe for the past three years,” he said.
“At the Warriors, I got my chance to start there and I was coming off that 18th and 19th man role quite a few times. It keeps you on your toes, it makes you perform well at training and show that you’re keen to nail down a role.
“I’m quite fortunate at the moment to have that centre role and I feel like each week I’m improving. It’s quite good to have Josh Morris on the side to give me pointers here and there and help that role – just those little things, the one-percenters and getting back onside quicker. It gives you a wider view of the field and in attack getting into position early.
“I’m just happy to be in the starting thirteen, or even in the seventeen with the Roosters. It’s such a great Club and to be in that starting role is pretty special and it’s something I’m not going to take for granted.”
With both Victor Radley and Angus Crichton on the sidelines, Butcher now finds himself as one the most experienced members of the forward pack, acting as a mentor to the likes of Fletcher Baker, Naufahu Whyte and younger brother Egan as he takes a starting role in the back row against the Dragons.
The 2019 Premiership winner was also quick to point out the return of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to the side for Sunday.
We played at Mackay a couple of weeks ago and to be able to bring games to regional towns is pretty awesome. It’s something we’ve spoken about and looking forward to doing.Nat Butcher On playing in Toowoomba this weekend
“Jazza is the man, he’s someone who we rely upon in our forward pack that gets us going and to have him back this week we’re pretty pumped," Butcher said.
“The younger boys have been doing a great job. When they’ve come up they haven’t done just what’s asked of them they’ve really stepped up and delivered more.
“We just try to help them out at training and give them tips wherever we can to make sure they can play their best footy come game day. It’s something that I enjoy doing.
“I really enjoy playing footy with Egan and to his credit, he’s played some great footy. He’s one of the guys who has just come in and done his job or done what’s asked of him – he’s delivered more.
“That’s something that’s been great to see and that’s given him confidence. We love playing with him. He’s great friends with Rads and learning a lot from him, and he could be learning from a better guy.
“For Egan to learn his craft off him is going to put him in great stead for the future.”
The pair also say that they have enjoyed playing in all corners of Queensland since relocating, with matches taken to Townsville, Mackay and the Sunshine Coast.
This weekend the Roosters will rumble with the Dragons in Toowoomba and are striving to use their remaining regular-season matches to continue their momentum heading into the finals.
It’s such a great Club and to be in that starting role is pretty special and it’s something I’m not going to take for granted.Adam Keighran Roosters Utility
“We haven’t really nailed that full 80-minute performance yet,” Keighran stated.
“That’s something we’re building towards for the semi-finals and the end of the season. The group that we have, no matter if you’ve played one game of NRL or you’ve played 250, all the boys are on the same page and want the same thing.
“Everyone fights for their position and everyone that’s come through has done a great job in their role. Personally, I’m confident and the boys don’t look too far ahead into the future, it’s more about the week coming so that’s the main thing.”
“When we played up in Mackay it was a mad atmosphere, and I think getting out into these regional areas is pretty cool for the game too.
“I’ll have some family out there as well, so it’ll be pretty cool to be playing out of a normal area. I’m looking forward to it.”
Round 23 Media - Adam Keighran
“We played at Mackay a couple of weeks ago and to be able to bring games to regional towns is pretty awesome. It’s something we’ve spoken about and looking forward to doing,” added Butcher.
“We just need to keep building upon what we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. I think we’ve really laid a good platform and played our own style.
"We’ve just got to keep building on that."
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