Roosters policy reveals unexpected benefit

Coach Trent Robinson’s policy of resting players was designed to have Sydney Roosters fresh enough for a tilt at the NRL premiership.

But it’s an approach that has taken on a different complexity after the hamstring injury to Mitchell Pearce.

Pearce was rested for the Roosters’ round 22 win over Newcastle after a torrid State of Origin series.

Jackson Hastings filled in for him at halfback, leading the side to victory alongside five-eighth James Maloney.

The experience Hastings gained in Pearce’s absence can only help the Roosters as they ready themselves for another finals campaign.

Pearce is set to miss a month of action with Hastings, 19, to take the NSW playmaker’s spot.

All of sudden the Knights match has provided an invaluable opportunity for Hastings’ combination with Maloney to gel.

Including the win over the Broncos, Hastings and Maloney have a 3-0 record when they play together in the Roosters halves.

They also combined for an upset victory over the Warriors in New Zealand when Pearce was absent due to Origin commitments.

“It all helps, it’s another 80 minutes we have played together,” Maloney said on Monday of the Knights match.

“One thing Jackson has done is he has come in and he hasn’t tried to overplay things.

“He hasn’t tried to come up with big plays. He has natural footballing ability and he just plays to that and steers the guys around the park.

“He is definitely a confident kid and stepping into the situation he is about to, he is going to need that.

“He has filled bench roles in the middle, now he is going to play in his preferred position so hopefully that just makes him that little bit more comfortable.”

In an interesting aside to their current combination, Hastings will take Cronulla-bound Maloney’s spot in the Roosters halves alongside Pearce next season.

Star back-rower Aidan Guerra said Hastings was capable of filling Pearce’s role ahead of Friday’s round 25 match against Manly and beyond.

“He has big boots to fill there, Pearcey is one of our captains and there is a big void there when he does go,” Guerra said.

“But if anyone can do it, it’s going to be Jacko. He went really well on the weekend guiding us around.

“He is a very vocal football player, he loves his football, you can tell that. And he is a smart footballer too.”

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