Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has swatted away suggestions his men are physically cooked following consecutive premierships and a form slump on the eve of the finals.
The Roosters are reeling after suffering a record 60-8 loss to South Sydney in the final round, but Robinson insists his team are focused on redemption heading into Friday’s qualifying final against Penrith.
The premiership winning mentor said every one of his players rang him last weekend to talk though the horror show against the Bunnies, with an eye on turning that around this week.
That’s one reason why Robinson isn’t worried about claims that the Tricolours have nothing left in the tank after years of success.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Robinson said.
“I think that is what opinion is about. People watch our sport so they can have their opinion of where teams are at.
“It is up to us to go out and perform. Simply, that is our role.
“We have to make sure that we are in a state where we believe in what we are going to do and show what we are worth.
“These guys don’t run away from anything.”
Robinson revealed the Roosters are in a strong mindset after collectively addressing their woeful loss to Souths.
“Every one of them rang me over the weekend to discuss it, which is very rare in our game,” he said.
“People want to avoid it, but they all wanted to discuss it and get their lessons.
“You want to stare it in the face, have a look at it, get the lessons out of it and then move forward.
“You don’t want to dismiss it and we are on to Friday night.”
Robinson couldn’t confirm if young gun Freddy Lussick will start at hooker in Jake Friend’s absence.
He conceded the team could change prior to kick-off.
“We’ve got our 21 and we will reduce that and then we will run out our 17, so we will see how that goes,” he said.
“I don’t go into team changes. That is the beauty of the way that the competition has been set up.”
Regardless of whether Lussick starts at hooker, Robinson is expecting the rookie to have a big impact against Penrith despite only having four NRL games to his name.
“He (Freddy) has got a big heart, and he has shown that throughout our pre-season in the way that he trains,” he said.
“He is a traditional hooker, so he brings good techniques along with him.
“Anybody that knows him, or his backgrounds knows that he is a fighter.
“You want people that want the big boys to stand next to him and Freddy has proven that over a long period of time without playing first grade.”
Shutting down Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary will help the Roosters go a long way to defeating the minor premiers on home soil.
Robinson has a simple approach to keeping Cleary quiet.
“Good strong defence,” he said frankly.
Robinson praised Penrith’s record season, but from experience he knows that a new season commences in the finals.
“They have earnt their position in this competition and they have done it over many rounds, but now the test starts,” he said.
“Now we look forward to getting into the finals series and putting all those things that we’ve learnt to the test and put the pressure on and see who comes out on top.”