The Sydney Roosters have shown they can win – and win in style – without NRL superstar Sonny Bill Williams.
No SBW, no problem.
Any concerns Sydney Roosters fans may have about the NRL premiers facing a revitalised Broncos outfit in Brisbane sans Sonny Bill Williams can be put to rest by their results without the suspended superstar.
In his two seasons at Bondi Junction, the Roosters have not only won the four games he’s missed but racked up an average of 42 points in each match.
The 56-4 spanking of Parramatta at Allianz Stadium last weekend followed a trend from late last season when Williams was sidelined with a strained hamstring.
The Roosters powered past Cronulla (40-0), Penrith (42-6) and Canberra (28-22) before the Kiwi dual international returned to their back-row.
Captain Anthony Minichiello said there was no doubt they missed Williams but the results highlighted the strength in their depth and team-first structure.
“We’ve got a great team ethic here and if one of our key players is out, like Sonny at the moment, then we’ve got a good squad of players who can fill the structure and work well as a team,” Minichiello said
“There’s no doubt that we miss Sonny but we’ve got other players who can fill in the position.”
Minichiello paid credit to the likes of rookie Kane Evans and stalwart Mitch Aubusson.
“Kane was great last week in his debut game for the Roosters … he’s worked hard for that position and he gets his shot again on Friday night,” he said.
“Mitch Aubusson has been around for a long time and everyone knows what type of player he is and everyone loves to play with him.”
Williams, suspended for three weeks for his opening-round shoulder charge on George Burgess, will also miss the grand final rematch against Manly next week.
Italy international Aidan Guerra is another to have stepped up in his absence and Minichiello said he wouldn’t be surprised to see him playing State of Origin for Queensland this year.
“Everyone knows what a player he is and how good he can be. He’s an awkward guy to tackle and he’s very strong.”
The Broncos are one of only three teams unbeaten after two rounds but they will receive their toughest test thus far from the Roosters who are still smarting from their 28-8 loss to Souths.
“It (the Parramatta win) was a good bounce back from round one, we were probably off the pace there against the Bunnies,” Minichiello said.
“There’s still areas there we want to improve on and hopefully we can do that this week.”