The Roosters were impressive against the Dragons. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
The Roosters were impressive against the Dragons. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

Roosters face NRL’s hex-factor

THEY started the season as competition favourites and have surged into form at the right time of year, but the Sydney Roosters will literally have to defy the odds to win the NRL premiership.

The Roosters are faced with overcoming one of the most confronting and baffling hoodoos in rugby league.

No pre-season favourite for the past 20 years has been able to embrace the suffocating weekly pressure and go on to claim the title.

 

Coach Trent Robinson's side started this season $5 favourites with the TAB following an impressive recruitment drive that netted veteran halfback Cooper Cronk and NSW Origin fullback James Tedesco.

Some of the finest teams of the modern era have been unable to handle the expectation of being preseason favouritism.

Only Melbourne succeeded in 2007, but they had their premiership stripped due to salary cap rorting.

 

Cooper Cronk has settled in at the Roosters. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
Cooper Cronk has settled in at the Roosters. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito) BRENDAN ESPOSITO

The TAB's Matt Jenkins said that in 20 years of betting on the NRL premiership, the wagering giant had never paid out on the preseason favourite for the grand final winner.

"The Sydney Roosters started the 2018 season $5 favourites, the shortest pre-season price since Manly in 2009," Jenkins said.

Prior to 2018, the Roosters have previously failed twice as pre-season favourites, losing the 2003 grand final and 2014 preliminary final.

The Roosters blew out to $8 in round 12 but have since firmed into $3.75 second favouritism betting behind Melbourne ($3).

Prior to last Sunday's 36-18 win over St George Illawarra, the Roosters were $4.50 for the premiership, their shortest odds this season.

The Roosters must play without Luke Keary for 3-4 weeks after the five-eighth injured his knee playing the Dragons in round 20. Picture: Brett Costello
The Roosters must play without Luke Keary for 3-4 weeks after the five-eighth injured his knee playing the Dragons in round 20. Picture: Brett Costello

The Roosters received mixed news yesterday with five-eighth Luke Keary ruled out for between three to four weeks with an MCL strain suffered against the Dragons.

Sean O'Sullivan, Mitch Cornish, Victor Radley and Ryan Matterson are in line to replace Keary when teams are named today.

Roosters legend Brad Fittler, coming off securing NSW"s first Origin series win in four years, was adamant his former club were premiership material.

"Absolutely. They scored everywhere (on Sunday), from all types of situations," Fittler said.

Latrell Mitchell terrorised the Dragons defence. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Latrell Mitchell terrorised the Dragons defence. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

"Instinct, kicking. From halfway, from the tryline, pretty impressive. They just looked a bit stronger and faster than the Dragons, who looked a little bit tired.

"The Roosters look pretty fit at the moment. They are good enough to win it.

"They are going to finish in the top four without a doubt. If they win three of their last five games, they will get a home final.

"Luke Keary went down on the weekend which is going to hurt them. There's your first bit of pain. It makes a big difference when you have all your troops on board."

One of those troops is Blues Origin centre Latrell Mitchell, who has scored 44 points in his past two games.

"He looks really fit," Fittler said.