1. Boyd Cordner.
Stats: 15 runs, 125 metres, 34 tackles, three misses
I can’t speak highly enough of this man — or should I say kid? His work rate is now the best among the Roosters and he was the lone threat against the Sea Eagles, constantly probing holes like an alien does an anus.
But you just knew it wasn’t going to be the Roosters’ day when he was pulled down within inches of the line:
Who the heck brings down the combo of Boyd and Pearcey so damn close?
Oh, it was Daly Cherry-Evans. Fair enough. I love that fucking guy.
2. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Stats: 14 runs, 107 metres, one offload, two tackle busts.
He diffused a bomb and did everything in his power to get the ball out of danger. Both he and Boyd are the only certainties to crack the triple-figure metres mark in any game — but the Sea Eagles, as they did for every Roosters player, managed to wrap him up like a fart under a doona.
That step manages to get him an extra metre or two every run, and his leg drive for someone who looks so slight is remarkable. The sooner he becomes the man who returns the ball from kicks from the middle of the field, the better.
3. Frank-Paul Nu’uasala.
Stats: Eight runs, 84 metres, three tackle busts, 22 tackles, three penalties.
Big Frankie is in the midst of a decent season for the Roosters — and was one of the few to repeatedly bend the Sea Eagles backwards. It’s just a shame he passes before the line more often than not, because among the Roosters forwards — Sam Moa and SBW excluded (JWH isn’t there this year) — he is the most damaging runner.
Whether he doesn’t realise it or it’s just not his role, who knows. But watching him these past two games makes you wish it’s the former rather than the latter, and he’s beginning to realise how devastating he can be
4. Mitch Aubusson.
Stats: Eight runs, 44 metres, two tackle busts, 35 tackles, one miss.
Mr Reliable, Mitch Aubusson, is — simply put — the best technical tackler at the Roosters. He gets in and both wraps the ball up and hits with his shoulder in the midriff, and doesn’t miss or allow offloads. To wit, here’s a chart showing the tackles made between misses for Roosters’ players this year:
So underrated, and just so effective. There’s a reason the Roosters kept this guy from the clutches of the Dragons last year, and many people didn’t realise it was largely due to his defence.
We do now.
5. Sam Moa.
Stats: 10 runs, 73 metres, 33 tackles.
He was down on his performances of late, but then again, everyone was. Regardless, he still had some huge, denting runs against Manly and has been the Roosters’ best front-rower this year. Amazingly, if you had to drop one of the front-rowers back to the bench, I’d be more surprised if it was Moa over Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. Here are their averages through four games, which don’t account for energy or aggression displayed in the course of a game:
When they signed Moa, I didn’t envision he’d become the premier front rower at the club. Shit, I didn’t even know who he was.
It’s only early, but Moa has been incredible and JWH has been so-so at best.
6. Mitchell Pearce.
Stats: Eight runs, 69 metres, four tackle busts, 14 kicks for 441 metres, 13 tackles, two misses, two penalties, three errors.
He was heavily criticised on social media following the game, and to be fair when they needed something Mp7 wasn’t able to provide it. But it wasn’t through a lack of trying. His three errors aside, he at least had a real dig and his running game was on song with 69 metres off eight runs, a seaosn-high.
He also threw the ball for Boyd’s near-try, and would have actually set up the try to put them back into the match but unfortunately the referees already used their “allow one shepherd per season” card on Ben Hunt in round one. Alas.
7. Jake Friend
Stats: Six runs, 42 metres, 48 tackles, four one-on-one tackles, four misses.
The four misses would be a concern if you didn’t know he completed 48.
But this was an unnaturally poor game from Friend in attack. A few passes from dummy half missed the mark badly, and he failed to take advantage of some weak marker play and the quick play-the-balls the Roosters could manage when they did have the rock.
8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Stats: Eight runs, 64 metres, 31 tackles, two misses.
In round 16 last year against the Eagles — in the game he’d returned from suspension after being sent off against the Eagles five weeks earlier — he had 21 hit-ups for 180 metres with 26 tackles and no misses or penalties.
He finished with less than half of those attacking stats in a game they really needed them.
Clearly, he’s down on the form he was in last year, and maybe the suspension he’s likely to get will give him some time to get that energy back up to the level it was in 2013. Or to hit the treadmill.
He’s taking too long to wind up and, as Ryan Heighway (@Heighway_) mentioned on Twitter: “JWH was deadly when he built a head of steam. It just takes that much longer to build it up with the extra kgs”.
I agree. The damaging runs have been nowhere near as common this year.
9. Kane Evans
Stats: Six runs, 53 metres, one tackle bust, 11 tackles, two misses.
He only had 25 minutes on the field, and in that time did have one poor shirt-grabbing miss on an angle run from DCE which led to a break — but he had three runs in the second half when the Roosters really needed them, and made 10 off each run.
Give him some more game time after he acclimatises to the speed of the NRL, and he is a career front-rower in the NRL. Plus, he just loves the club and understands the need for patience.
10. Dylan Napa
Stats: Seven runs, 49 metres, 17 tackles, four one-on-one tackles, two misses.
He had a few crunching tackles — tackles only Nap Time can pull off — and his running game is becoming more direct and more effective. He’s not the erratic ball of uncontrollable energy that he was in round one, which must have served as a wake up call to the big bell ranga.
He was dropped to an extended bench following that but got a late call-up after the withdrawal of Remi Casty. He’s been solid and consistent since.