Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has labelled Ben Cummins a “top-line ref” ahead of their first NRL game under Cummins since Robinson’s extraordinary Anzac Day spray.
Robinson was whacked with a $40,000 fine for his scathing attack on a “disrespectful” and “horrible” Cummins following their two-point loss to St George Illawarra in round eight.
According to Fox Sports Stats, the Roosters have won just two of 15 penalty counts under Cummins since Robinson arrived in 2013, but the newly re-signed coach insists the club has moved on from the saga.
“He’s a top-line ref,” Robinson said on Friday.
“He’s going to get some big games. The first game back was always going to be discussion about, but we’ve moved on and it’s business as usual for us.”
Robinson confirmed young gun Latrell Mitchell will miss Saturday’s clash against Melbourne after succumbing to an ankle injury, with either Blake Ferguson or fellow rookie Connor Watson to step in at fullback.
It will be the first game Mitchell will have missed since making his debut in round one.
“That’s been one of my thoughts throughout the season, about the play that he’s had, especially at fullback and as an 18-year-old,” Robinson said.
“The load’s been okay because of the rep round, the bye and another bye coming up, but it’s been a big year so far and we’re only halfway through.”
Halfback Mitchell Pearce has also been given another week to heal a strained calf and is expected to be back for the following week against the Warriors.
“(The calf is) good, but not good enough,” Robinson said.
“It’s only a strain but to go a bit technical, it’s where the power comes from in your calf. To be honest, I’m hoping he’ll play against New Zealand.”
Shaun Kenny-Dowall is another who is nearing a return after missing the past month with a toe issue.
“He ran for the first time yesterday, so the toe was pretty good. There’s just a fair bit of soreness in Shaun just for running after 4-5 weeks off. He’s looking good,” Robinson said.