As Sydney Roosters close in on a third successive minor premiership, coach Trent Robinson says the paltry prizemoney on offer proves the NRL doesn’t care about it.
The $100,000 the Roosters stand to receive for being best in the regular season if they defeat South Sydney on Friday hasn’t increased since the NRL was founded in 1998.
To put it in some context, round robin losers at the pre-season Auckland Nines tournament earned $110,000 each.
“Simply I think that ($100,000) is the importance the NRL put on it,” Robinson said on Thursday.
“People talk about it, and it is hard to finish first after 26 rounds but the NRL didn’t include it in their season launch when they put out all the trophies that were important to them.
“We are not scoffing at $100,000 but it is not significant when it comes to a multi-million dollar business so that is why I think the NRL has made it clear on how they see the minor premiership.”
The Roosters are hot favourites to stretch their winning streak to 12 against the Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium.
Souths have won just one of their past four and will be without stars Greg Inglis (knee), John Sutton (broken leg – season) and Issac Luke (suspension) for the 212th clash between the bitter neighbouring rivals.
Robinson made it clear the Roosters’ main focus wasn’t on the minor premiership either, with their sights firmly on reclaiming the premiership title they relinquished last season when Souths triumphed.
“You can feel the confidence you get from winning games, but you have to make sure you get the hunger to improve,” Robinson said.
“I can see that guys are confident about how the team is going, but the hunger to make a difference the following week, that is the most important thing that I want to see.
“We want to win big games and we didn’t do that last year.
“Even though we have won the minor premiership the last two years, we have never been focused on that, we have always been focused on the one prize.
“We want to play a game we are proud of against Souths that really sets us up for when the race does start.”
Shaun Kenny-Dowall is set to play for the first time in two months, returning for the Roosters on the right wing in place of Brendan Elliot.
Kenny-Dowall hasn’t played since round 18 due to concerns over his mental well-being amid domestic violence allegations levelled against him.
Centre Michael Jennings returns from suspension for the Roosters, pushing Mitchell Aubusson to the bench.
For Souths, Dylan Walker and Alex Johnston are again likely to fill-in at fullback for Inglis at various stages.
Cameron McInnes slots in for Luke at hooker and Chris McQueen joins the back-row in the absence of Sutton.
After two disappointing losses, Souths coach Michael Maguire is confident a clash with the Roosters will bring out the best in his side.
“The Roosters have been setting a bit of a benchmark, it is up to us where we go,” he said.
* The Rabbitohs have dominated this clash in recent years, winning five of the past seven, but the Roosters have won this final round clash for the past two years.
* Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s incredible year just keeps getting better. The Roosters fullback leads the NRL in running metres and total runs and is second in tackle breaks.
* The Roosters are looking to become just the fifth team in the Origin era (1980-2015) to not lose a regular season game by double figures.
(Stats courtesy of Fox Sports Stats)