Coach Trent Robinson has praised his side for the way they dealt with the Michael Jennings’ drama, giving the wayward star a “kick up the bum” before securing a vital victory against St George Illawarra.
With Jennings stood down, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves out with a calf injury and Sam Moa suspended, the Roosters accounted for the Dragons 19-14 to conclude the NRL’s round 15 on Monday night.
Shaun Kenny-Dowall starred for the tricolours, scoring two tries as he moved past Bill Mullins to become the Roosters second highest tryscorer with 105 tries, behind only Anthony Minichiello (139).
With youngster Brendan Elliott filling in capably for Jennings, the absence of State of Origin II’s man of the match was hardly felt by the Roosters as they moved into the top four for the first time since the fourth round.
The win effectively put the Jennings’ drama behind them, after the NSW centre was arrested and later charged with hindering police and offensive behaviour on the weekend.
“I think the players knew – even before Michael knew – what the result was going to be,” Robinson said.
“They talked with him on the Sunday morning and they went out there and trained well. They said their piece and Michael said his and moved on.
“It’s a distraction when it comes to the club, but they did two things: they kicked him up the bum and supported him to get back on track.”
Jennings will return for the Roosters clash with Gold Coast at Gosford on Sunday.
He was stood down for one match and fined $20,000 ($10,000 of which has been suspended) after a joint investigation by the Roosters, the NSWRL and the NRL integrity unit.
Blues coach Laurie Daley said Jennings would be available for selection for Origin III despite the incident.
The Roosters have won five of their last six after slow start to the year punctuated by four successive losses.
Robinson said they were building nicely on the lead in to the final series.
“I feel like we’ve had a good season so far,” he said.
“The confidence is there, the composure was there. I think we’re well placed.”
Robinson said Waerea-Hargreaves should be fit to face the Titans after also missing last week’s win over the Warriors.