1. Michael Jennings (Last week: 1)
Many will point to the bombed try in the second half when a streaking Jenko threw a one-handed offload behind Daniel Tupou over the sideline, but that blunder can be put down to Tupou not being deep enough to receive it.
And even with that missed chance, Jennings was still dangerous enough to maintain the top spot in the Weekly Roosters Player Rankings.
He broke the line for the fifth and sixth times this season despite the Roosters having limited possession against the Broncos on Saturday, and his defence against Matt Gillett – a hard player to wrap up for second-rowers, let alone a centre – was top shelf.
He led the game in metres made (151 from 10 runs) with five tackle busts and 15 tackles with just one miss. He still hasn’t registered a try or try assist, but he did nothing in this game, when you combine it with the overall performance this season, to justify a drop this week.
However, he needs to stay on his nimble toes as the guy below him is coming — and not in the barbeques session kid of way.
2. James Maloney (LW: 3)
He was the 26 Rounds Man of the Match against the Broncos, following on from a dominant effort against the Warriors and a “coming out” party of sorts on last week’s footy show.
His combination with the man below him enabled him to score probably the softest try he’s ever scored, and while he deferred much of the general play kicking to Mitchell Pearce against the Broncos, his goal-kicking was the difference last week while his defence on the line against the Broncos helped to hold up Sam Thaiday over the line in one of the few times they were threatened.
3. Sonny Bill Williams (LW: 4)
SBW played the full 80 minutes for the second straight week and was clearly the Roosters’ most dominant forward out there.
He set up the Roosters’ lone try to Maloney with a pretty short ball inside and he’s been more of a before-the-line ball player than the through-the-line offloader many were expecting.
He led the forwards in runs last week for the first time with 15 (115 metres) and has had line break assists in each of the past two games in addition to the try he scored in round one.
Defensively he’s yet to miss a tackle through three rounds and is yet to miss a tackle this season.
When he gets that offload back into his game (just four in three matches) we’ll know for sure that the Roosters’ biggest offseason acquisition since God moved from the foot of the mountains in the 90s has finally made it all the way back.
4. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (LW: 2)
Against the Broncos he played just 43 minutes but he was near-falutless in that time, leading all forwards in the game in metres gained (136 metres off 14 runs) with 29 tackles and just one miss.
His attack has finally caught up to the level of intimidation he shows in defence, and now can sustain that energy level the entire time he is on the field.
He slides not because he’s done anything wrong, but simply because of the outstanding play of Maloney and Williams.
5. Mitchell Pearce (LW: 6)
Without MP7’s massive boot against the Broncos, they lose. He kicked it 10 times with limited ball for an astounding 413 metres, and also took the line on when he could with nine runs, six tackle busts and a half-break.
What has kept hi this low is his short kicking game, which has been a disappointment in the first three rounds, as well as the simple fact that SBW and Maloney have been the features of the attack in the past two rounds.
He’s feeling the heat from the media drive to get Adam Reynolds a sky-blue jersey, and he’s yet to control a game with the ful gamut of his skills, unless you count the round one loss when he had a try assist, three line break assists, 9 kicks for 364 metres and four runs in a flogging.
With so many weapons around him and Maloney being given the reins on the left, we may not get one of those complete games out of Pearcey. Ideally, we don’t need him to either.
6. Anthony Minichiello (LW: 8)
Mini was safe as houses against the Broncos in defence, batting the ball dead on a number of occasions including on a grubber that in recent years would have been a struggle for a guy who had parts of his spine fused together to get to.
He also took a calculated risk by offloading to MP7 in goal in the last five minutes against Brisbane, but it was the right play as it would’ve been incredibly tough to hold Brisbane out for another set. MP7 made it back into the field of play and the Roosters held on.
His pressur eon Scott Prince near the line caused the five-eighth to spill the ball in the only other real time the Broncos looked like scoring.
He doesn’t break the line anymore but with Jennings and co he doesn’t need to. He just needs to continue to build on what he did in defence on the line, and get to difficult grubbers.
7. Mitchell Aubusson (LW: 5)
He was quiet against Brisbane in 50 minutes off the bench but he tackled his arse off (26 tackles, no misses). Combine this with his attacking performances in the first two rounds (one try, three line breaks) and we can forgive the meagre two runs for just 10 metres against Brisbane – especially as the Broncos dominated possession throughout the match.
8. Sam Moa (LW: 7)
He failed to break the 100 metre barrier for the first time this season on Saturday (10 runs for 90 metres in 50 minutes) but he wasn;t the only forward who failed to do so with a severe lack of possession hampering the effort.
But he didn’t put a foot wrong against the Broncos’ massive forward pack and arguably outshone the bigger name in Ben Hannant.
He made 36 tackles – albeit with two misses – and played well up the middle with limited ball in attack. He should maintain the starting spot despite a slightly better effort from Marty Kennedy.
9. Boyd Cordner (LW: Not ranked)
He missed four tackles on Saturday, which led the team, but looked dangerous on the right-fringe in each of his eight hitups (67 metres) in just his second game back from a shoulder sprain.
He played 67 minutes for 35 tackles and two tackle busts, and his play kept offseason recruit Luke O’Donnell to just 27 minutes of game time.
10. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (LW: Not ranked)
The Sheck makes his debut in the top 10 after his amazing display of footwork against the Broncos returning the ball. There is nothing more tantalising than watching those feet dance through defenders.
He’s still incredibly yet to score a try for the Roosters, but against the Broncos he had three tackle busts, 13 runs for 79 metres and six tackles on the wing against Kiwi compatriot Josh Hoffman.
He had three errors but the club as a whole struggled on Saturday. He’s recovered well from a horror defensive effort against the Bunnies and we are literally watching this kid learn the game as he goes.
Jake Friend, who played 61 effective minutes with 45 tackles and looked dangerous for a change in probes out of dummy half; and Daniel Tupou (LW: 10), who again went looking for the ball but over-ran a Jennings pass with space begging and failed to capitalise while compounding the issue with three errors and failing to capitalise against the much shorter Lachlan Maranta.