Roosters coach sees no major change - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Roosters coach sees no major change

By Steve Jancetic 06/03/2009 03:37:15 PM Comments (0)

Having worked so hard to get the Sydney Roosters back to the NRL finals last year, coach Brad Fittler saw no need for major change going into the 2009 season.

Sure the Roosters made an inglorious exit on the back of successive post-season losses to Brisbane and the Warriors, but having gone three seasons without finals football, just making the finals was a significant achievement.

"Absolutely," Fittler said when asked if he looked back on 2008 a success.

"Unless you've won the grand final, every other team heads into the next season coming off a loss. We did well."

Which is why Fittler decided against reinventing the wheel at the Bondi Junction club.

Despite losing the likes of experienced trio Anthony Tupou (Cronulla), David Shillington (Canberra) and Amos Roberts (North Queensland), the Roosters made only a few low-key purchases over the off-season with Fittler instead targeting development from within his squad.

"We lost a few players and we didn't gain that many so you don't want to wipe out everything you've already done," Fittler said.

"We've just got to hope our young players come through and evolve, which I believe they will.

"There's half a dozen blokes there that are around that 40-50 first grade games mark - they keep telling me that's one of the secret numbers - they get used to it by then I suppose."

Of the players in that group, most pressure will be on the likely new halves pairing of Setaimata Sa and Mitchell Pearce.

Having failed to find a permanent home in the Roosters line-up since making his top grade debut in 2006, Sa has been given an opportunity to make the No.6 jumper his own in 2009.

There's little doubt he has the skills to make a fist of the key position, but questions remain over the inexperience of the scrumbase combination with 21-year-old Sa teaming up with the 19-year-old Pearce.

But having seen the way Fittler has set up his side during the NRL pre-season, it is obvious the man who wore the No.6 jumper last year - skipper and NSW pivot Braith Anasta - will still handle much of the playmaking responsibility despite being moved to lock.

"I just think some players are good enough to play anywhere I suppose. Whether Braith plays lock, five-eighth, it doesn't really matter," Fittler said.

"Regardless of where he plays, I just ask him for a certain amount of input.

"He's a great player - he can play 80 minutes, he's a big fella who can hit a hole and do all sorts of things."

Another big fella the Roosters will be counting on in 2009 is Willie Mason.

The former Test forward had a sub-par first year at the club, his frustrations culminating in a devastating knee injury on the eve of the finals which ruled him out of the club's pre-season campaign.

He remains an outside chance of returning in time for the Roosters round one local derby against South Sydney.

When he does return, tri-colours fans will be hoping to see more of the Willie Mason who made a habit of destroying defences during his time with the Bulldogs than the one who struggled to impose himself in 2008.

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