After losing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney and Sam Moa the Roosters were always going to struggle to gain a fourth successive minor premiership. When Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner got injured and Mitchell Pearce got drunk, things went from bad to worse for the Roosters. They would lose their first five games and that was it for their season. When teams with high expectations find themselves out of the running things often turn to crap. But the Roosters weren’t as bad as their record indicated.
The Roosters went 0-8 in games decided by less than six points. That’s the worst effort in close games since the 2000 Sharks went 0-10 in 2000. The Roosters had gone 11-9 in their minor premiership years so this represented a pretty big drop off. As we noted in the North Queensland chapter records in close games are often just fluke and give no indication on how a side will perform in the following season. In 2001 the Sharks went 3-1 with another 2 draws in close games. Six teams lost every close game in a season and the following season they went a combined 28-4-12 for a 0.68 record. The Roosters will most likely be better in close games this year and that’ll give their record a boost.
The Roosters didn’t really make any major recruits; Luke Keary firms up the halves and Gordon will move to fullback. The real boost is going to be having Mitchell Pearce back in the line-up from round 1. Pearce was brilliant when he finally got on the field. The Roosters weren’t massively better results wise with Pearce in the line-up but he sure helped – the Roosters went 4-8 with Pearce starting and 2-10 with him out of the line-up. Pearce had 11 try assists and 12 line break assists in 12 games. The rest of the halves had 17 try assists and 16 line break assists in 37 games.
There are also a few other underlying reasons to think that the Roosters’ 2016 was an aberration. While the Roosters conceded 576 points which was ranked 13th, their missed tackle rates was 5th best. There is only a weak correlation between missed tackle rank and points against rank (correlation is 0.32) but it is still there.
You can also do a similar comparison of tackle break rank compared to points for rank, the correlation is a little weaker than with missed tackle rate/points against rank but it is still there (0.24 correlation). The Roosters ranked 2nd in tackle breaks but 14th in points scored.
In 2016 the Roosters were a lot better than the average 6 win side and I’d say there is a pretty strong chance the Roosters bounce back for a 12+ win season and make the play-offs.
Michael Gordon and Luke Keary are the key new recruits but starting the season with a sober Mitchell Pearce and healthy Boyd Cordner Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will probably have a bigger impact.
2016 Positional Minute Splits
With big minute props, second rowers and hookers the Roosters didn’t always have a strong need for their interchange bench. 30.52 minutes per game for an interchange player was higher than only the Storm and Bulldogs.
Jayden Nikorima started for the Roosters in round 1 last season. This season he’s probably the sixth best option behind Pearce, Keary, Watson, Cornish and Matterson.
Average Fantasy Points Allowed Per Position
Considering their position on the table the Roosters were still pretty stingy in fantasy points. I’d expect that to continue this season.
Key Fantasy Changes
Neither Latrell Mitchell nor Blake Ferguson will play fullback. That job will go to Michael Gordon. The biggest fantasy question though might be does Nat Butcher or Zane Tetevano find themselves in the match day 17?