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‘We Always Had Belief’: Roosters Primed for Sharks Showdown

Six weeks ago, the Sydney Roosters were sitting in 14th place on the competition ladder, having only won eight from 19 games. Now, they’ve secured a spot in the NRL finals for the seventh consecutive year.

It’s quite the turnaround, but for Luke Keary, Nat Butcher, Sam Walker and Billy Smith – the belief amongst the team has been there all season.

Belief in the hard work, belief in the system, belief in the sacrifice and belief in each other all serving as a catalyst for the current five-game win streak and the mighty Tricolours aren’t finished yet.

“I don’t think people really thought we were much of a chance maybe a month or six weeks ago, but we always had belief inside here that we could string a few together,” Vice-Captain Keary said.

“We knew the type of footy we were capable of, I think the last month you’ve seen glimpses of it, we haven’t really put it together properly yet.

“We’ll be looking to do that this weekend but there was always a belief inside the playing group I know.

“Inside those walls, we thought we could get the job done that we needed to, obviously we put ourselves in a position there where we had to rely on other things to happen too, which is a bit disappointing, but we’re here now so let’s go."

Keary: 'We Know What We're Capable Of'

Butcher says the team are well equipped to face the Sharks at PointsBet Stadium, having already played in a number of must-win matchups dating back to Round 23.

“[We’re] pumped, we got set a challenge after the Brisbane game,” he said.

“We knew we had to win every game and a couple of results had to go our way.

“To our credit, it’s been a good couple of weeks, really enjoyed it but the new season starts this weekend.

“I think they’re a great team, they’re well coached under Fitz [Craig Fitzgibbon] … so I know they’re going to be rocking and ready to come on Saturday.”

The return of Walker has given the Roosters a massive boost in attack recently, with the 21-year-old seamlessly slotting back into the halves alongside Keary.

From Ipswich to the National Rugby League: Walker and Keary have been dominant for the Roosters in recent weeks.
From Ipswich to the National Rugby League: Walker and Keary have been dominant for the Roosters in recent weeks. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

His inclusion has resulted in a number of try-scoring plays, for himself and for his teammates, and he’s hungry to continue to make his mark on the game - especially in enemy territory this weekend.

“You can feel the intensity and feel the excitement building at the club,” he told Roosters Radio.

“I’m excited, it’s a really cool ground to play at.

“The atmosphere, the crowd is almost on top of you and I think it will be 95% Sharks supporters out there, so we’re going into enemy territory.

“I think we can really set a tone there, we’ve been playing finals footy for the last five or six weeks now so it’s no different for us, we’re just going about our business there and I know the boys are humming.”

Specialist centre Smith is set to play his first NRL finals match after recovering from multiple injury setbacks to emerge in career-best form.

The local junior recognises that the Sharks will be just as hungry to keep their season alive on Saturday.

“Honestly, I think we don’t stray away from what we’ve been doing,” Smith said.

 “We know our best style of footy, and we’ll go through our game plan over the week but we’re in a good spot at the minute.

“We’re still building, and we’d like to improve, but I don’t think we need to recreate the will against these guys.

“It’s obviously going to be a big tough battle out there at Shark Park but we’re looking forward to it.”

Smith: 'We're Not Finished Yet'

Going from strength-to-strength every time he dons the jersey, Smith has produced some game-defining moments in recent weeks – including a trademark try against Campbell Graham to effectively end South Sydney’s season last Friday.

But he says the Roosters still have a few tough battles ahead before they can secure a spot in the decider.

“It’s super special being here and playing finals and seeing the buzz around the Eastern Suburbs at the moment,” he explained.

“But in saying that, we’ve got a long way to go, we want to go all the way this year.

“We’re no where near done yet but we’re enjoying the moment that’s for sure.”

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.