Head Coach Trent Robinson has backed rookie Ben Marschke to fill the shoes of Sam Verrills as the Roosters and Sea Eagles continue their rivalry on Friday night, and also gave an update to the returning Nat Butcher and sidelined Joseph Manu.
The three-time Premiership winning coach confirmed that Marschke would take on the hooking role this week with the omission of Sam Verrills, airing his confidence in the rookie dummy-half who began the year playing in the NSW Cup for North Sydney.
“Ben will come in, he’s played a lot of games in the middle,” Robinson confirmed.
“It was good to get him back to the Club and playing with some of the guys he had played in junior reps with through the u20’s.
“Having him back at North Sydney and watching him play with the tenacity he plays with, it’s been quite an easy choice to bring him in there. He’s a really popular, positive guy and he takes his time to help the other guys in and around training. He’s always upbeat and positive.
“He’s played a lot of footy, we knew the scenario going into Tuesday night, and now Benny gets his opportunity. It’s a really important role and Benny has a real hooker temperament.
Coach's Media - Finals Week 2
“We believed in our case (at the judiciary), and we didn’t believe it was a grade two, but it wasn’t to be.
“The match review committee have decided that’s two games. We’ll just move on.”
While plenty of talk throughout the week has gravitated around the fullback match up between James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic, Robinson was stern in his approach against the Sea Eagles - citing the historical rivalry between the two clubs that has spanned five decades while also highlighting the importance of keeping their focus on the job at hand.
“We always have our game plan,” Robinson stated.
“It’s lazy coaching if you don’t prepare well for players and also opposition. We know what their strengths are, we know where we want to defend and how we want to attack them in defence.
“I think it’s great that you have a rivalry that goes back to the 1970s with guys like Crusher (Noel Cleal), going back and forth and Bobby Fulton. There’s an incredible history there right through to the big games and the modern era.
“It’s amazing. When people see those two jerseys on the field a lot of supporters see that and feel that, and that’s awesome. But for our preparation as a team, that’s different.
"There’s almost a coldness about how we want to perform and what we want to do this week, but we want to add to that history as well.
“You don’t want to narrow your focus on one guy and not the rest. It’ll be business as usual when preparing for the opposition.
“We know our style of defence and how we want to play. That’s up to us to deliver tomorrow night.”
It’s amazing. When people see those two jerseys on the field a lot of supporters see that and feel that, and that’s awesome. But for our preparation as a team, that’s different. There’s almost a coldness about how we want to perform and what we want to do this week, but we want to add to that history as well.Trent Robinson On reviving the rivalry between Easts and Manly
Robinson was also quick to laud the development of Tedesco as a leader of the side through 2021 and assured that the star fullback and captain needed no external motivation ahead of Friday night's match.
“He’s been invaluable,” he said.
“He’s the ultimate reason why we’re in the position we are at the moment along with many other people. He’s been the driving force behind our team.
“James sets his own tone and always has. He’ll continue to do that – he doesn’t need motivation from outside forces, there’s a huge internal drive there.
“Many, many people have played roles around that but he’s our captain and leader. He’s led from the front. He’s always been a leader but he’s also been that individual athlete.
“The weight of the captaincy hasn’t affected him either. That’s a real credit to him.”
Finals Week 2 Media - James Tedesco
The Tricolours will gain a timely boost to the side with wholehearted forward Nat Butcher making his first appearance since the Round 23 clash in Toowoomba, with Robinson also giving an update on the recovery of Joseph Manu, who has resumed light training duties with the side.
“He puts on weight, Joey, so we need to get him out there running,” he joked.
"The beautiful man is slightly less beautiful but he’s keeping fit and healthy. The face is getting back down, it’s not completely back to normal yet but it’s getting there.
“It’s good to get him back out there and training out there at least in some form.
“Nat’s got experience, that tradesman-like style of play. He’s played in big moments for us and it’s good to get some experience back on the bench."
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