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Young Forwards Focused on Consistency and Growth

Front rower Fletcher Baker and incoming Sydney Roosters recruit Renouf Atoni have one thing in mind that is pushing them through the pre-season - to improve upon each and every day. 

It might be a cliché in the Rugby League world, but the two middle forwards are knuckling down at Moore Park and grinding through the hard slog in search of personal and on-field development ahead of the side's upcoming campaign. 

Baker (22) and Atoni (26) may be at different stages of their careers - with the former coming off sixteen appearances in his rookie season, while the latter arrives after four seasons at the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs - but both have been showing the same unbridled enthusiasm at Kippax Oval. 

“It’s been really good, I’m really enjoying myself here,” Atoni said in his first interview with RoostersTV.

Baker: "It's Exciting"

“I’ve been learning a lot since I’ve been here. There are new things every day and I’m really enjoying my time. This is such a prestigious Club, it’s got a great history.

“I think it was the right time for me to make a change in my career. Hopefully, I excel and I can build on what I’ve done at Canterbury.”

“Pre-season has been good. It’s been tough," Baker added.

"But obviously, before our Christmas break, we had a couple of weeks there which was good. All the boys came back, we got some new faces which lifts the group. We’ve got a mad vibe at the moment.

"I was lucky enough to debut in Round 2 which was pretty cool. We had a couple of injuries but we always worked around that.

Atoni: "It’s Been Really Good Coming In and Learning"

"Sixteen games is crazy. I couldn’t believe I had done it."

The pair both stated their desire to learn from the senior members in the Roosters' forward pack, one that contains hard-hitters such as Siosiua Taukeiaho, Angus Crichton, Lindsay Collins and Victor Radley.

But the engine room's cornerstone and the side's longest-serving player in Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is who the pair have gravitated towards in search of expanding their knowledge. 

“You’ve got Jazza (Waerea-Hargreaves) with heaps of experience," Atoni said. 

“I told him the first day I came in ‘Man, I’m just gonna stand near you and learn as much as I can from you’, so it’s been really good coming in and just learning.

“This pre-season has been really good to me, especially learning off the boys."

“I’ve always looked up to Jared," claimed Baker.

I’ve been learning a lot since I’ve been here. There are new things every day and I’m really enjoying my time. This is such a prestigious Club, it’s got a great history.

Renouf Atoni Sydney Roosters Recruit

"There’s a lot of other boys around there but it’s pretty cool playing with Jared. He's always there and lifts the team.

"But I’m also keen this year to play with Lindsay which will be awesome.”

As for ticking off the boxes and achieving their goals for 2022, Baker and Atoni are happy to reap the rewards from pre-season ahead of the side's trial matches in late February, before the season proper kicks-off at the SCG against the Newcastle Knights.

“I haven’t really thought about my goals yet, I just want to play consistent football,” Baker stated.

“I want to work on a few injuries from last year. I had a couple of niggles so I want to work on that a bit more. It’s exciting. We’ve got some new faces – Paulie (Momirovski), Connor (Watson), all those lads.

“I just want to be consistent and play some good footy.”

“To be honest I’m just taking it day by day," Atoni said. 

“As I said I’m learning a lot and I have a lot to learn. Hopefully, if I’m there in Round 1 then I’m there, but if not it’s back to the drawing board.”