The Roosters are no longer making grandiose statements about doing the right thing, instead, they’re just getting it done and letting their game do the talking.
This is according to a solid article from James Hooper of the Telegraph who has uncovered a secret booze ban started by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves:
…. not one member of the Sydney Roosters roster has touched a drop of alcohol for over a month. Call it a coincidence, but the Roosters are on an eight-match winning roll.
“We didn’t want to make a fuss of it, we actually just wanted to keep it in-house. It was something we decided on as a group about a month ago,’’ Roosters coach Trent Robinson said.
“It was Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who came up with the idea of everybody just making a small sacrifice in that area. It certainly wasn’t Sonny’s idea or something he was pushing but at the same time the lifestyle choices he makes are clearly having a positive effect in that regard.’’
In years gone by, booze bans at the Sydney Roosters were inevitably a kiss of death for the NRL’s most high-powered club. The last time the club was supposedly going dry, Todd Carney and Nate Myles were both sacked and Frank-Paul Nuuausala was stood down after being photographed coming out of the Courthouse Hotel two years ago.
Not anymore. Again, call it a coincidence, but instead of getting snapped outside nightclubs, Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce has been spotted doing regular hot yoga sessions, along with teammates Waerea-Hargreaves and Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
The reason? SBW. An athlete who makes it cool not to get on the booze, instead advocating drinking green tea as an alternative to coffee and doing extras inside the fully-equipped gym inside his home.
This is the influence Sonny Bill has had on this club. His professionalism and leadership has been a breath of fresh air — fresh air they’ve tasted more and more as they’re out there in it, and not in pubs.
This is the best season this writer cares to remember for the Chooks — 2002 aside (and depending how it all finishes, this one could be even better) — and they are certainly leaving nothing to chance as they chase their first premiership since then. They’ve taken the element of disruption out of their game and removed the potential for scandal to suck the oxygen out of the room.
This is in stark contract to the club they’ll play tonight. Though hardly the players’ fault (for the most part), the club has been engulfed with ASADA investigations, pissed-off ex-sponsors and salary cap allegations.
In short, the Roosters are the opposite: a professional club with someone who appears to be the most professional player of his time, a player who makes sacrifices and changes the culture of clubs. This is why Sonny-Bill Williams is worth the $1m a year, and to be honest that would mean he was underpaid. Whether he stays or not next year, doesn’t matter: what is important is if he leaves a legacy.
Remember, just last year we had BJ Leilua fronting court and Mitch Pearce all over the front pages, and the year before that we had the Courthouse debacle.
We’ll only know in two or three years’ time whether SBW’s legacy is lasting, but for 2013 he’s got the most out of his teammates and his professionalism has led to the headlines being formed from their on-field exploits.