The Sydney Roosters Player Rankings, Round One

So we’re trying something new with the rankings this year — kind of. The system remains the same, but the analysis has changed.

Your friendly neighbourhood Jarmel will take the studious task of ranking players one through 10 per week, but both DMW and I will discuss the rankings in detail, attempting to justify why they were ranked there in the first place.

At the end of the season, as was the case last year, we will judiciously extrapolate the scientific findings of the rankings and determine the 26 Rounder — or simply put, the Roosters Player of the Year. The winner gets a complimentary jpeg of a celebratory balloon as their ultimate reward*.

Your welcome, future winner.

Without further ado, here is the first edition of the rankings for 2014. How we managed to rank anyone after that game is beyond me.

*Print and download costs at own expense.

The Sydney Roosters Player Rankings, Round One

DMW: As always, it was a tantalising encounter between these old foes to launch the 2014 NRL season, and a slightly subdued build up in the week leading in followed with both teams seemingly intent on focusing inward and not adding to the hype the media was trying to create for this match.

But Thursday morning (game day) saw a few rumours and whispers begin to surface on social media, and whether one side lost its focus as a result remains debatable.

JARMEL: That’s one excuse. Another is that one team just wasn’t ready for round one.

1. Boyd Cordner.

Stats: 12 runs, 98 metres, 42 tackles, one tackle bust, one error.

DMW: After missing the corresponding clash in 2013 due to injury, the 26rounds favourite made the most of his inclusion this time around, taking out the honours in the opening round of the season.

Despite the Roosters’ stifled attacking performance Cordner continued to probe and looked the most likely of the forwards to break through a committed Souths defensive line. A true gladiator in every sense of the word.

JARMEL: Yeah, he’s one of the few who can hold his head up after this game. The 42 tackles would be close to a career high. The Roosters suffered when he was off, no doubt.

DMW: It was a difficult result for the Roosters in many respects, and it’s understandable if some perhaps thought someone else should be ranked first.

2. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

Stats: 14 runs, 124 metres, four tackle busts, one tackle, one missed, one error.

DMW: Dodge had little to do defensively in this game, but in attack he used every opportunity he had to bedazzle the opposition with what is undoubtedly the best step in the game bar none, only being caught late by some desperate reaching covering tackles.

He did his utmost to spark an otherwise uninspired Roosters team into action and one got the feeling if he scored at any point that he alone might have gone on with it. He played the entire 80 minutes in his first real game back from a leg fracture suffered in the RLWC, and left a few Souths defenders grateful that he didn’t run at them.

JARMEL: The step he put on the Lurgii was breathtaking. He and Mini swapped spots throughout the game and that’s likely the formation for the Roosters throughout the year — unless Mini continues his current form, especially bringing the ball back.

DMW: Very encouraging signs for the Roosters with Dodge. He was not far short of his 2013 form so early in the new season and they’ll need every ounce of his brilliance in the coming weeks.

3. Jake Friend

Stats: four runs, 24 metres, 50 tackles, four missed.

JARMEL: He did everything he could. His running game was probing, his service was crisp but in the end was severely let down by teammates who didn’t run onto the ball off him like they did to end 2013. He tried a few double decoys near the line with his props but the go-forward wasn’t there in the end, epitomised when Joe Picker brought JWH down in a one-on-one tackle a foot from the line.

DMW: What can I say about the RWB pocket dynamo wearing the nine? The harder the task the more Friend relishes the challenge ahead. He was monstered by the opposition pack on the night but still managed an impressive 50 tackles in a game that was very heavy going and forwards-dominated. He served the Roosters well at dummy half and didn’t take a backward step despite the game not going to plan on the night.

4. Sonny Bill Williams

Stats: 11 runs, 103 metres, two offloads, a tackle bust, 31 tackles, no misses, one penalty, two shoulder charges apparently. 

DMW: SBW must feel like he’s a moving target on a rugby league field. If it isn’t opposition players putting on cheap shots (yes take a bow Te’o, pronounced her’o), it’s the bloody referees and the doctors, lawyers and private eyes over at the Match Review Committee. Despite all of this, SBW was dangerous with the ball in hand and the opposition knew it all too well, managing to contain him to 11 runs for a total of 103m and just the two offloads — but it took a Burgii and a Gurgii  to do it. Courageous effort on the night from SBW despite being put on report.

JARMEL: He was down on his 2013 form but was struggling with injury heading into the match; the silver lining to his three-game suspension cloud is that he’ll be able to rest up.

But target or not, the shoulder charge was just a silly play late. It’s been outlawed for the past seven seasons of his life (five in rugby, two in league). Whatever you think of the rule, it’s a rule. It’s time to use the arms.

 5. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

Stats: seven runs, 63 metres, one offload, 32 tackles, four penalties.

DMW: Rumours were rife before the match that the Redfern lads had something special waiting for the Roosters hard man in response to comments he allegedly made earlier in the week. It didn’t deter JWH in the slightest, yet he’d be the first to admit his own disappointment with his performance in this one. Whether he was side-tracked from the usual barnstorming impact we know he is capable of in a game remains a question but his minutes, runs and metres gained were well down from what Roosters fans have come to expect from him.

What he did do early in the game was respond to the challenge being dished up and at times it did seem he was alone in this respect. Perhaps the succession of silly penalties late in the game were borne of the frustration he know doubt was feeling. Understandable maybe, but nevertheless a part of his game he still needs to do more work on.

JARMEL: I loved his opening five minutes: four hit-ups and some hard defence, especially out of marker. That was 2013 JWH.

His last five minutes though were the JWH of 2012: three cheap penalties, an ineffective running game and just three runs after that initial five minutes. I like 2013 JWH better.

6. Michael Jennings

Stats: 10 runs for 78m, two tackle busts, 14 tackles, two one-on-one, one try, one error.

DMW: For the man unwanted by the Panthers it was a case of big game experience showing on the night. He scored after chasing a kick through from Daniel Tupou and it demonstrated the flyer is never out of any football equation.

JARMEL: He was let down by his teammates in two of the Inglis tries.

7. James Maloney

Stats: 17 tackles,  two missed, six kicks for 187m, four runs for 27 metres, one penalty, one error. 

DMW: Certainly not at his best here but evidence enough that he needs to continue to rally and drive this team forward. A sound kicking game while under pressure from the defence.

JARMEL. He tried, it just wasn’t there behind a badly beaten forward pack.

8. Mitchell Pearce.

Stats: 20 tackles, five missed, 4 kicks for 136m, two tackle busts, three runs for 16 metres. 

JARMEL: Where was MP7 from the Nines? The probing, stepping, ad-lib Pearcey who set the world alight? I miss that guy. To be fair, he and the BBQ were behind a well-beaten pack, but Reynolds got the best of him in this one.

DMW: Outplayed by Reynolds? Certainly not. His clearing kicks found the open grass and relieved the pressure, while at other times he tried to shift the ball wide of the ruck quickly… but to be honest he found few willing Roosters recipients.

9. Sam Moa. 

Stats: six runs, 50 metres, 38 tackles, two missed, two penalties, one error. 

DMW: One cannot doubt this man’s toughness and resilience. He wasn’t at his best by any stretch but he dug in for the 53 minutes he was on the field.

JARMEL: Can never doubt his heart is there, but it never got the chance to get going once Souths started getting a roll-on.

10. Aidan Guerra. 

Stats: seven runs, 63 metres, two tackle busts, 28 tackles, two missed, one penalty. 

JARMEL: He epitomised the defensive load the Roosters had to contend with when, at the end of the first half following a Rabbitohs error, he was hunched over, just gassed.

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