OPINION

Sydney Roosters won't take NRL title without Keary

GONE: Laurie Daley says the Roosters won't win the competition without Luke Keary, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
GONE: Laurie Daley says the Roosters won't win the competition without Luke Keary, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

It might sound like a big call this early in the season but I think the Sydney Roosters are gone.

They won't win the comp from here. Not without Luke Keary, who is out for the season with that knee injury.

I reckon they have enough top class players to still make the top eight but without Keary, I can't see them finishing in the top four and challenging the likes of Penrith, Souths, Canberra, Melbourne and Parramatta for the title.

Keary is a massive loss. Trent Robinson's team was skinny in the halves as it was and it was always going to be Keary's team, with the help of James Tedesco at fullback, off the back of their pack of forwards up front.

Without the number seven, the coach has little option but to turn to 18-year-old rookie Sam Walker to suddenly take ownership of the team, which is going to be a huge ask for the kid.

Walker is clearly a wonderful young talent and among the emerging stars of our game and I'm excited to see what he will bring. But there is so much pressure on the playmakers each and every week to perform and to pile that on a teenager, particularly without an experienced head in the halves to support him, is a huge burden to shoulder him with.

I reckon they have enough top class players to still make the top eight but without Keary, I can't see them finishing in the top four ...

I can't think of too many teams that have gone on to give the premiership a real shake in the past that hasn't had at least one representative player calling the shots at either half or five-eighth.

One thing is certain, the Roosters pack will have to really stand up and perform a whole lot better than they did against South Sydney last weekend if they are to keep their season on track.

Even with Keary on the field, the Roosters were completely dominated by the Bunnies and I thought the final scoreline actually flattered the Chooks in the end. Souths were in the mood, oozed confidence and you got the impression early in the contest they knew they had the Roosters' measure. It was a magic performance from them.

But like I said at the top, you can't completely write the Roosters off because in Tedesco, the Morris boys and Joey Manu, to name a few, there is enough strike there to cause plenty of teams problems.

Fan of 18th man

There has been plenty written and spoken about the concept of having an 18th man available and whether changing the rule to accommodate one is the right way to go. I've got to say I'm a fan.

The way the concussion rules are now and how prevalent the HIAs have become because of a far stricter and much more sensible approach to dealing with head knocks, I don't believe it's fair for teams to be disadvantaged by bad luck.

The Raiders were affected by it last weekend, as were the Sharks, with coach Johnny Morris the only bloke on their bench in the second half. Given that the 18th man will have to be an "emerging player", I can't see there being a drama with coaches trying to manipulate the situation to their advantage, which has been the concern of some critics.

Remaining games

SHARKS v COWBOYS

The Cowboys have shown us nothing to suggest they can turn things around and win this game against a Sharks side that has been ultra-competitive. Todd Payten has been trying to establish his authority to find out who is with him and who isn't up there in Townsville and no one looks to be on the same page at this stage. My tip: Sharks.

TITANS v RAIDERS

It's a definite advantage for the Raiders that this game has been switched to Sydney and while I don't think they have found their rhythm yet this season, I think they will win. The Titans have been good over the past couple of weeks against lesser opponents but this is a huge challenge for them. I reckon we'll know if they are the real deal after this one. My tip: Raiders.

KNIGHTS v DRAGONS

I'm going with the Knights here but with absolutely no confidence after what they dished up against the Tigers last Sunday. The Dragons have a great record in Newcastle and have shown some really good signs in recent weeks but Ben Hunt and Jack Bird are big outs for them, particularly Hunt. My tip: Knights.

ROOSTERS v WARRIORS

The Warriors showed plenty of tenacity to reel in the Raiders last weekend from 31-12 down even with the dramas the home side had. So with Addin Fonua-Blake outstanding for them and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in great form, I give them a real shot at upsetting the Roosters here. I'm sticking with the Chooks though to rebound from last week. My tip: Roosters.

TIGERS v EELS

I have a feeling this will be a lot closer than a lot of people think, with the Tigers taking some confidence out of their win over the Knights but I've been impressed with how measured the Eels have been and their patience in attack and I expect them to come out on top. My tip: Eels.