The Sydney Roosters have begun the mind games ahead of Friday’s NRL preliminary final, promising to exploit weak links in the Brisbane defence.
While keeping his cards close to his chest and not wanting to give away his game plan, Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the Broncos were vulnerable.
Last week, Boyd Cordner harassed Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds all evening, running at every opportunity. And the Roosters are expected to employ a similar tactic against Brisbane and send traffic the way of No.6 Anthony Milford.
Milford has been one of the shining lights for Wayne Bennett this year but, due to his small frame and having spent a large part of his career defending at fullback, is heavily targeted by opposition teams.
Asked if the Roosters planned to go after Milford, Robinson said he had directed his troops to test certain players they had identified and believed they had found holes in Brisbane’s defensive line.
“Everybody has their areas that they need to work on,” Robinson said.
“Our job is to exploit those. I won’t go into detail about where they are but we’ve got to know where to attack them and make sure we can exploit them as much as possible.”
Friday’s match up brings together two of the best-defensive teams in the competition.
The Roosters topped almost every major defensive category in the league including points conceded (12.8), tries against (2.3) and linebreaks (3.1). They also finished second in metres conceded, averaging 1330 metres per game – just one metre behind North Queensland.
Brisbane’s stats show they were the best at keeping opposition sides to small totals. On just five occasions, they let in more than 18 points, the fewest of any side in the competition.
They also had the least missed tackles – 19.8 per game.
Their only two clashes this year have been decided by razor-thin margins – the Broncos won it in golden point in round six while the Roosters scraped home by two points in round 24.
Robinson said he expected Friday’s clash at Suncorp Stadium to follow a similar script.
“They’re one of the better defensive teams in the competition – they’ve proven that this year,” Robinson said.
“We’ve had some very tight games that have hinged on big defensive plays.”