Veteran duo Josh Morris and Daniel Tupou will both create history in the 2021 finals series, with the former competing in his last playoff campaign before hanging up the boots, while the latter will reach the momentous 200 game milestone for the Roosters this weekend.
The pair also made their intentions of taking out the 2021 NRL Premiership clear and backed their squad to do so through the 'long way' after finishing the regular season in fifth position.
A figure in the NRL since 2007, Morris proclaimed his excitement to compete in one last finals series before retiring at season's end, citing his enjoyment in being able to help guide a young side with plenty of youngsters, most of which will be playing their first post-season match this Saturday.
“It’s very exciting knowing that retirement is just around the corner and any game could be my last,” he admitted.
“Trent (Robinson) has done an amazing job with the squad and the players and to see young kids come through and play some really good football. It’s a wonderful thing for the Club to have such depth and to continue to win whilst going against adversity. It’s something that we’re all proud of.
“I’m just enjoying it. We’re sitting in fifth and it’s not impossible (to make the Grand Final). We’re confident in our ability and internally we know we can win the comp and we’re not here to make up numbers.
Finals Media -Josh Morris
“We’re happy with where we’ve finished but it’s a different ball game now.”
His partner on the left side of the field concurred, backing the belief of the young squad to defy the odds placed upon them by pundits to stake a claim for the prize in the first week of October.
“I believe anything is possible,” Tupou stated.
“Through belief, hard work and a lot of trust, we’ve put ourselves in a good position and I’m sure we can go all the way if we have that belief. Being together in this hub we’ve grown as a team and gotten to learn a lot about each other.
“If we put ourselves in a good position we can achieve that goal and we’re chipping away one game at a time. We’ve been put through a lot this year as a team, but we’ve always found a way to bounce back.
“We’re taking it one week at a time and it starts with this weekend. The boys are pretty pumped and I can’t wait to run out there.”
Morris was in full praise of Tupou ahead of his 200th game for the Club - which will see the Tongan international become just the twelfth player in Club history to reach the milestone - and had plenty to say about the softly spoken winger.
“I’ve admired Toops for a long time,” Morris said.
“His ability in the air, he’s probably one of the best in the game at that. The work that he does in the backfield - he’s almost like an extra front rower – and he’s been doing that for nearly his whole career. He’s only getting better and better with age as well.
“I really enjoy playing alongside Toops. He doesn’t really talk too much, he lets his actions do the talking and to play 200 games is a massive achievement for him.
“He’ll break a few Roosters records along the way still. He’s got plenty of footy as well. Hopefully, we can get the win for him this weekend because he deserves it.”
Finals Media - Daniel Tupou
Tupou expressed his gratitude for reaching the milestone, reminiscing back on a journey that saw him recruited to the Roosters' feeder Club before climbing to the peak and becoming a three-time Premiership winner.
The man of the moment was sure to return the compliment given to his centre partner as well.
“It’s definitely a massive achievement for myself, I didn’t think I’d ever reach this milestone,” Tupou admitted.
“I came over and played NSW Cup with the Newtown Jets at the beginning and I sort of just grew as a player and as a person. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity and took it with both hands.
“It’s gotten me to where I’m at the moment, there were a lot of curves along the way but I’m grateful for those moments.
“It’s pretty special to be doing it in the Roosters colours. I’m pretty grateful and I’m pretty stoked.
“I’ve learned so much off him (Morris) and I was lucky enough to grow up and watch him play on the telly. So to play alongside him, I’m grateful for those opportunities and moments.
“He’s an awesome player and an awesome person.”
The centre/winger combination also gave mention of teammate Siosiua Taukeiaho, who will line up in his 150th match in the Red, White and Blue this weekend, lauding his leadership qualities in a season that has seen him guide a young forward pack from the front.
“Siua is a very important part of this team,” Morris stated.
“The amount of work he gets done in the engine room, he’s had to play 80 minutes at stages through the year. He’s been massive while Jared (Waerea-Hargreaves) hasn’t been there the last two weeks. He’s really laid a platform for us.
“It was actually quite funny; the other day he came up to me and said ‘how the heck have you played 300? I’ve played 150 and my body’s battered and bruised already!’ so we had a bit of a joke about that.
“If we put ourselves in a good position we can achieve that goal and we’re chipping away one game at a time. We’ve been put through a lot this year as a team, but we’ve always found a way to bounce back."Daniel Tupou
“But it’s a massive achievement for Siua and he’s a very important part of this team heading into the finals that’s for sure.”
“I’m proud of my fellow Tongan brother and his achievement,” Tupou added.
“I’m glad we’re both running out this weekend to milestones. I’m proud of the person that he has become, he’s an important part of this team with the leadership that he brings.
“I can’t wait to run out there and do him proud this weekend.”
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