The Sydney Roosters are desperate to cash in on their wealth of talent and go back-to-back in the NRL this season.
The Sydney Roosters made the finals every one of the nine seasons Brad Fittler was at Bondi Junction but, in the end, had just one premiership to show for it.
Ten years on and Roosters coach Trent Robinson has warned his defending premiers of the perils of squandering a rare chance to create a NRL dynasty.
Not since Brisbane in 1992-93 has a side gone back-to-back in a unified rugby league competition, but critics are already crowing about the Roosters’ star-studded squad being primed to achieve, where even Melbourne and Manly have fallen short, and break that mould.
Sonny Bill Williams is the Roosters’ best signing since Fittler, and his presence for one more season along with Michael Jennings, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves makes this another once-in-a-decade ensemble.
It would seem only an injury disaster could stop the Roosters from challenging again, however recent history suggests the tri-colours will need to address a tendency to drop off the radar after big seasons.
Captain Anthony Minichiello was part of the Roosters’ teams that made four grand finals in five seasons in the early 2000s for just one ring.
Their 2002 premiership was a big moment but, on reflection, there’s regret for the years before and after when the Roosters fell short of the mark.
Minichiello and Robinson have implored their troops to turn a grand final win into a culture of consistent dominance.
Utility Daniel Mortimer learned at Parramatta after 2009 how easy it was for grand finalists to fade.
“That’s something Robbo made a note of when he first came here,” said Mortimer.
“That won’t change and we’ll look to create a bit of a legacy here. Maybe not by winning it (every year) for the next five or 10 years, but definitely being up there challenging the finalists.
“You can’t stand still.
“We have to go to another level otherwise we won’t reach the heights of last year.
“It was obviously a great year and we can reflect on good times, but this is a new year and we have to go back to what wins footy games – hard work and dedication at training. That’s something the coach has made us aware of.
“At Parra, we made it and it was all magical and we did the same thing, thinking success would come again and it didn’t.”
The idea of becoming the team every other side wants to beat is new for the Roosters.
However, the club has avoided one challenge other premiers have encountered, and that’s overcoming the lag caused by travelling to England for the World Club Challenge.
Wigan came to Sydney this year and Mortimer says the Roosters feel primed for Thursday’s round-one blockbuster against South Sydney.
“I think it was beneficial,” he said.
“When I first heard, I wasn’t too happy because I would have loved the free trip to England. But looking at the schedule we had already (with the Auckland Nines as well), it was pretty flat out. I don’t think we could have managed.
“It does take it out of teams.”