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Robinson Talks Rabbitohs Rivalry, Resting Manu & Reaping Rewards

On the eve of the Sydney Roosters final game of the regular season, Head Coach Trent Robinson has backed his team to secure their fifth consecutive win and the possibility of a finals berth ahead of their clash with long-standing rivals South Sydney.

The three-time Premiership-winning coach also confirmed that the Tricolours will be without Joseph Manu for the do-or-die game, as the New Zealand International continues to rehabilitate a Grade 1 hamstring strain sustained in Round 26.

Robinson: 'It's Game On'

Robinson is well aware that the Roosters must secure the two competition points to keep their season alive, but says the team have been playing sudden-death football since Round 23 and are no strangers to the occasion.

“[There’s] no risk, there’s only reward that's there this week,” he said.

“There’s the belief in what we can do tomorrow night, the belief in the reward about what's coming is it's all upside.  That's the way that you view it, there's no holding back as far as the way that you want to play.

The reward’s sitting right there, these are the games that you really want to be involved in and we've had that week-in week-out for the last few weeks.

- Trent Robinson On the Roosters hunger to win

“Four weeks ago, we were like if we don't get this game done it's over for us and there's no difference, you're going in and there's an excitement and a purity to these games and we want to attack that.”

The Tricolours mentor recognises that it can be easy to get lost amongst the intense energy surrounding the Easts versus Souths rivalry but says the squad are focused on executing their game plan regardless of the opposition.

“I think the context around it makes it really exciting, you know winner takes all there is pretty clear,” Robinson said.

“It just happens to be us on the last day of the regular season, so yeah it's pretty clear that it's a big one, whether it's the biggest is debatable but it's the biggest one that we need to think about this week.

“I think there's been a lot of discussion around it, we were excited by it, but we could be playing Camden Rams this week for a spot in the finals and it wouldn't make any difference as far as opposition.

The prize has been pretty clear for us for a month, that we needed to keep winning and whoever was in front of us, we need to play our best footy and keep improving and win games.

- Trent Robinson On the Roosters' winning momentum

“There's no difference tomorrow night, it just happens to be a great story and rivalry, but a lot of that is external, our focus has been really clear about how we need to play.”

Robinson confirmed Manu will be sidelined for the must-win clash, but is confident the Golden Boot winner will be available should the Roosters progress to the first week of finals.

“I like the fact that the medical staff said there's a small percentage chance, name him.  We’ll do what we can to see if we can get him through, but yeah not enough to get through the game so we made the decision yesterday not to play him,” Robinson said

“That minor one, that grade one … I think Rads had one, handled it really well a few weeks ago but they are often that sort of 10-day one so yeah, he’ll be right to go.”

Retaining Sam Walker after a stellar performance last week, Robinson is confident the 21-year-old will once again step up to the task and bring his own attacking flair on Friday night.

“I really enjoyed Sammy coming back in and the ease of which they [the spine] combined last week,” Robinson explained.

“We need to create opportunities for them to combine and that needs to come through speed of play for us but that combination is key to how we're going to perform.

“I felt like it was the right time to get Sammy four months out to get a couple of games under his belt in that short amount of time … then he walked back in last week and really performed well and also communicated well.

Walker is On!

“He adapted to that style of play really quickly 'cause it's natural to him, so I feel like our system, we’ve be working on that all year but we've also played a little bit more off the cuff the last month so that’s going to be no different tomorrow night.”

If the Roosters defeat the Rabbitohs on Friday evening, they will be relying on the Sharks or the Panthers to win their respective matches in order to make the Top 8 - but Robinson is not giving much thought to the probable outcomes.

“I won’t get past tomorrow night, that's not in my control so therefore it's not much use discussing that.

“For us, it's never a waste to play really good footy and they keep searching for that, all we can do is go out with the mindset tomorrow night to continue the footy that we want to play.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.