The Sydney Roosters have faced a searing test of the NRL club’s character over their winless start to 2016, according to star centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
The back-to-back-to-back minor premiers have crashed to three successive losses to start 2016 and find themselves anchored to the bottom of the ladder.
They face Manly in a virtual must-win game on Saturday at Allianz Stadium – no side has won the premiership from a 0-4 start. Just ask Cronulla how hard it is. They recovered from a winless first month to make the finals last season, only to be dealt a footballing lesson in their semi-final defeat to eventual premiers North Queensland.
“There are no excuses, we have been the benchmark for defence the last three years and it is no secret it has fallen down – we have to dig deep this weekend,” said Kenny-Dowall, set to play his 200th game when he runs out against against Manly.
“We all have to take ownership of it,” he said on Wednesday.
“It is not the nicest time but it is a character-building time and we are working hard.”
The Roosters conceded 300 points over the 24 premiership rounds last season at an average of 12.5 points per game. This season, they have conceded 103 points over the first three games at an average of 34 points a game.
They have been hit hard by injury. Coach Trent Robinson will blood his fifth rookie this season against Manly in Eloni Vunakece.
He will be the 20th player used this year by Robinson. That figure will rise at least to 23 when Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner return from injury and Mitchell Pearce from suspension. The Roosters used 24 players in all last year.
“It is only three games in; we are looking forward to resurrecting our season this weekend,” Kenny-Dowall said.