Roosters set for hostile NZ reception - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Roosters set for hostile NZ reception

By Steve Jancetic 16/09/2008 07:21:00 PM Comments (0)

Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium is set to throw the Sydney Roosters the most hostile of receptions for Friday night's NRL semi-final - and coach Brad Fittler wouldn't have it any other way.

Fittler embraced the prospect of a pro-New Zealand Warriors sell-out crowd for the opening semi-final clash, with tickets on sale to the general public snapped up in just 11 minutes on Tuesday morning.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere. Last time we went over there when they were on a pretty good roll," Fittler said.

"It was a great atmosphere and it was a good game of footy.

"Hopefully they'll get the drums out and the atmosphere comes with it.

"You hope they (the players are) excited and there's no doubt it's going to be a great challenge considering what they did on the weekend.

"They've run into a bit of momentum over the last couple of weeks.

"They've got a great leadership group so you know the atmosphere ain't going to affect them - we've got to match that."

Another thing Fittler wants his troops to match is the Warriors' intensity, and the never-say-die attitude which propelled them past Melbourne on the weekend.

"They've got a really strong leadership group. They give them the belief to fight to the death," Fittler said of the Warriors, who came from behind to snatch a last minute 18-15 win over the Storm.

"That's something we've definitely got to combat considering we were up by 12 points and lost that game (to Brisbane) on the weekend.

"We're looking towards our leadership group to have a similar sort of attitude."

The Roosters head to Auckland buoyed by a terrific recent record across the Tasman, with three wins from their past four starts at Mt Smart Stadium including a 38-12 win in round 11 this year.

That victory came without the services of skipper Craig Fitzgibbon and fullback Anthony Minichiello, while the only big name not backing up for a second trip to New Zealand is injured Test backrower Willie Mason.

Fittler said his side prided itself on its ability to win away from home. The Roosters' seven wins on the road this season is just one shy of the NRL-best eight managed by both Manly and Cronulla.

"The stats say the teams with the best away records win comps," Fittler said.

"We've got a pretty good away record this year and this game will put us with every other team in the top four so it's pretty important to us from that point of view."

The Roosters took 20 players to Auckland on Tuesday, that number to be boosted by the arrival of Amos Roberts on Wednesday following the birth of his second child on Tuesday.

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