Experienced forwards Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Isaac Liu are champing at the bit to take on the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles this Friday night as the Roosters look to continue their charge through the 2021 finals series.
Following the side's one-point victory over the Gold Coast Titans in the first week of finals, the pair believed that while there were plenty of match-winning efforts from their teammates to be lauded in the closely fought win, there was still improvement left in the side.
Waerea-Hargreaves also elaborated on his first match back in the Red, White and Blue since Round 23.
“It was tough, nail-biting I’d say,” Liu said.
“We again made it hard for ourselves. It was a tough game in the end but we’re grateful to get through.”
“The whole team scrambling for that last two minutes was massive. Toops in the end there, it was a try-saver. That was a massive effort.”
Finals Week 2 Media - Isaac Liu
“It’s the reason why you play footy,” Waerea-Hargreaves added.
“You play footy to be in the finals and to be there at the end of the year. We started training last November and you’ve really got to make the most of your time.
“Enjoy your time but not lose focus of why we’re here: that’s to win footy games and make sure we’re at the big dance.
“The body’s feeling pretty good. I just had about four or five ongoing little niggles. After the scorpion-pretzel it was good to have a week or two off. I was ready for the Raiders game but the coach sort of made a call there.
“It was nice to get out there in some tough conditions in a big game against the Titans. It was just good to hang in there and score a good couple of tries and a few individuals held us really strong there.
“I’m really clear on my role this week and looking forward to a good week of preparation.”
The two senior forwards were quick to praise the return of Victor Radley to the side, who had plenty of impact on the result with a number of try-saving efforts, while also putting captain James Tedesco over to score following a bullocking effort.
For Liu and Waerea-Hargreaves, the local junior's impact as a ballplaying lock and organiser is imperative to the side's success in the middle of the field.
Enjoy your time but not lose focus of why we’re here: that’s to win footy games and make sure we’re at the big dance.Jared Waerea-Hargreaves On finals football
“I love playing alongside Victor,” Liu said.
“He’s mobile. He’s like a link between the backs and the forwards; he’s able to pass, he’s able to run quick, he’s strong, he’s able to bash the front door down.
“Pretty much he’s a centrepiece for us middles but also the whole team. He’s great to have on the field alongside Jazz (Waerea-Hargreaves) and Gussy (Angus Crichton), two leaders there.
“But it’s great to have Rads back.”
“He definitely plays a vital role in our team,” Waerea-Hargreaves claimed.
“He’s obviously a ball of energy off the field and he’s exactly like that on the field. We enjoy his company but on the field, he has a clear role. He organises the forwards and then he also organises certain shapes around it.
“He’s very clear on what he’s doing for us.”
Finals Week 2 Media - Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Now coming up against the Sea Eagles for the first finals match between the two clubs since the 2013 Grand Final - with Waerea-Hargreaves being one of only two current members of the squad to have played in the victory - the Roosters will look to continue their charge through the 2021 finals with an 80-minute performance.
“We’re pretty excited and pretty keen,” Liu said.
“We’ve played them how many times but it’s always a good battle between us two. We’re definitely looking forward to it.
“It’s not going to be easy but we’re looking forward to the challenge and the physical game there.”
“We continue to talk about the 80-minute performance, and we’re still searching for a total game,” added Waerea-Hargreaves.
It’s not going to be easy but we’re looking forward to the challenge and the physical game there.Isaac Liu On the upcoming match against the Sea Eagles
“The belief is still super high amongst the squad. We spoke about it yesterday; we’re looking for, as Robbo said, perfection. There are just areas we want to be better at: effort areas and the detail of certain plays.
“Jake Friend used to always play about playing for the full 80 but being prepared to play for the full 90 and just to do whatever it takes really. We showed it with the last two plays of the game last weekend.
“We were in it the whole game. For them to come back the way they did and for our players to just turn up, the desire we play with - to play for each other - that’s what it takes.
“We know we can get better as individuals and as a team.”
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