The Sydney Roosters will be without injured key players Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Joey Manu as they try to recover from a heavy defeat Penrith that Captain James Tedesco described it as “embarrassing”.
The Panthers showed their best performance of the season on Friday, defeating the Roosters, who lost four tries in each half, losing 48-4. In 103 previous encounters, the Panthers had never won so convincingly.
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Limited to just one try for the second straight season, the Roosters lacked strength in defense, especially when Penrith’s Jarome Luai found his groove.
Tedesco lamented the Roosters’ inability to win the game’s attacking areas.
“We are proud of that at the Roosters and work hard for each other. That hasn’t been the case in recent weeks,” Tedesco said during the post-game press conference.
“It was really hard to be captain and to achieve that. It’s embarrassing.
“We are not resilient enough.
“As soon as something bad happens, we allow a few attempts. We just hang our heads and it just keeps getting worse. It’s pretty hard to swallow.”
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was delighted with his side’s performance.
“We started the game quite lively, but then we managed the inside ball and then prevailed in the second half,” said Robinson after the heavy defeat.
“We don’t move for each other. Things like kick pressure and kick chases are gone entirely. We got an incredible lesson tonight.”
Injuries to Waerea-Hargreaves and Manu compounded the Roosters’ woes as both men underwent an inquest over the weekend.
“I don’t know how bad[the injuries]are, but obviously they couldn’t get back on the field,” said Robinson.
Waerea-Hargreaves left the field with a chest injury in the first 20 minutes and his team-mates were out without him; No Roosters forward ran the 100 yards, but five of their fellow Panthers did.
Chest injuries can leave the player on the sidelines for months rather than weeks, but Robinson didn’t think the base injury was serious.
“I don’t think it ripped,” he said.
Manu needed help leaving the field in the second half after twisting his ankle to prevent the Panthers’ team defense from knocking a Roosters ball carrier backwards.
The New Zealand international has played eighth-five times in the last month, with Sam Walker relegated to the reserves, but a knee injury has meant the disgraced Walker will not regain his place in the squad St George Illawarra next week.
Walker sustained his injury in training earlier in the week and missed Friday night’s NSW Cup game against Penrith but does not require surgery and is expected to be available for selection in Round 14.
“It’s not that bad, it’s been a few weeks in a row. After the farewell (lap 13) I think he’ll come back,” said Robinson.
Robinson remained calm despite injury fears, insisting his side had the depth to cover for both Waerea-Hargreaves and Manu.
“But it’s not about individuals, it’s about us as a whole, as a whole team, to get the problem under control quickly and get back to the Roosters’ style of football,” Robinson said.
Drew Hutchison is the likeliest contender for Luke Keary to play at halftime against the Dragons, while Terrell May has a good chance of coming on the bench as a centre-forward.