Mitchell Pearce is back to steer the Roosters. Picture: Gregg Porteous/dailytelegraph.com.au
Canterbury Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters
Friday May 23 – 7:50 PM (AEST)
Against the Cowboys last week, the Sydney Roosters were outplayed across the park. They had no direction, no momentum and no heart. The inclusion of half-back Mitchell Pearce should add the direction, but the heart is something every player needs to find. The Canterbury Bulldogs will be without that direction for the first time this year, with both Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds being called into the NSW Origin side.
After last week, the Chooks are thankful of a scandal-free preparation. Mitchell Pearce has a lot to prove. If he wasn’t engulfed in scandal, he might have still lost his Origin jersey due to form alone. James Maloney’s form hasn’t warranted selection either. If both of them want to reclaim the 6 and 7 Blues' jumpers, they need to put on a first-class show on Friday. Shaun Kenny-Dowall (wing) and Samisoni Langi (centre) move to the left side of the field, with Mitch Aubusson at right centre to cover for the NSW pair of Daniel Tupou and Michael Jennings. Sonny Bill Williams returns to the back row. Dylan Napa starts this week for the injured Boyd Cordner (ankle), with Kane Evans and Remi Casty joining the bench after Aiden Guerra made the QLD side.
The Doggies have to win without their halves. A tall order, when both Hodkinson and Reynolds are the catalyst for their winning streak. Then there is the loss of Josh Morris and Tony Williams to a Blues jersey as well. So much talent missing, the Doggies' depth will be tested. Moses Mbye and Reni Maitua move into the halves, with Maitua playing his first game this season.
Krisnan Inu gets his first start in 2014 on the wing, with Chase Stanley in the centres for Morris. Dale Finucane starts in the second row for Williams, with Pat O’Hanlon on an extended bench.
This should have been a real clash of two premiership heavyweights, but with the omission of the Origin stars and the Roosters struggling for top form, it takes away a bit of the gloss. The Roosters have the class and talent, they just need to utilize it, and with the Doggies calling in the back-ups, they might come away with this one.
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