Strip club Pom poised to pinch Roosters’ GF dream
JOSH Hodgson is the king of the strip club, and he's ready to pinch the Sydney Roosters' premiership dream.
Roosters defensive coach and club legend Craig Fitzgibbon will be called on this week to devise a plan to try to stop Canberra's pilfering Poms in Sunday's grand final.
Hodgson's 14 one-on-one ball strips this season dwarfs the Roosters' entire team total of two.
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Centre Latrell Mitchell labelled the tactic "annoying," while Roosters coach Trent Robinson blew up after his players were stripped three times by the Raiders in round 21.
"We'll be training to try and disarm it," Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves said.
Roosters centre Joey Manu added: "Obviously Hodgson is a big factor - you've got to do your homework."
In two games this season, Canberra has pinched the ball three times from Roosters forward Zane Tetevano.
The Raiders have stolen the ball one-on-one 28 times this season - nine clear of second-placed Melbourne.
The Raiders will throw three into a tackle before two peel players away and the one-on-one strip occurs.
"There will be a lot of video that goes into it. We will focus on Hodgson and all those boys.
They love a strip. It's so annoying," Mitchell said.
"I think their call (for a strip) in the tackle was 'money' but they'll probably change it now. It's hard when they don't say anything and just rip it out. They're good at it.
"Craig Fitzgibbon is really good at game plans. He is our defensive coach. He works really tirelessly on it. I think he will have a few tools for us to go in and work with."
Hodgson had two crucial strips in the preliminary final win over South Sydney, with his season total now nearly three times the next best in the competition, Melbourne's Brandon Smith (5).
Waerea-Hargreaves hasn't forgotten the frustration the players felt after their last match against the Raiders.
"We played them about six weeks ago down in Canberra and I reckon they got us eight times," Waerea-Hargreaves said.
"We will be aware of it and no doubt we will be practising to try and stop it. It's a pretty cool little tactic but we'll be training to try and disarm it.
"When you carry the footy, you're trying to gain metres so the last thing you're thinking about is someone stripping the ball.
"They are the best at it. It's about holding onto the ball tighter and being aware of where they are in the tackle and who is in the tackle. They got me once down there."
Manu said it had been big factor for the Raiders.
"We have to work on holding the ball tight and ball grip,'' Manu said. It's more about focus when you're under fatigue and you start getting a bit loose with your carry.
"Everything you do in such a big game like this will be detailed. In those last few minutes, when you're running, you have to hold it tight and know who is tackling you.
"Obviously Hodgson is one of their big factors. You've got to do your homework and be detailed. It can work for both teams so we'll see how we go."
Roosters prop Siosiua Taukeiaho said his teammates must identify which Canberra players commit the stealing.
"He (Hodgson) strips the ball a lot. When you see him in front of you, you have to run hard but be aware of him stripping the ball off you," Taukeiaho said.
"They have been doing it for a while now. For us players, it's about being aware of the players that do it often. We have to continue running hard but be aware of those strips.
"It's something we will be focusing on and they are pro's at it. We just have to try and protect that ball by gripping it hard.
"Not everyone at Canberra does it. There are only a certain few who do it. If you're running at them then that's when you know you have to protect the ball. The last thing you want is them stripping it or you losing it."