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Fittler has faith in under-fire Roosters

By Ian McCullough 02/04/2009 07:33:37 PM Comments (0)

It's been a tough start to the 2009 NRL season for the Sydney Roosters, but coach Brad Fittler is maintaining faith in his misfiring and suspension-hit side.

With key forwards Nate Myles and Willie Mason stood down for Friday's clash with Parramatta after breaching the club's alcohol policy and the signing of the Bulldogs' Nick Kouparitsas falling through, the Roosters' back-row is severely undermanned.

And with Anthony Minichiello and Anthony Cherrington also sidelined with long-term injuries, Fittler has not been dealt the best of hands this season, as the Roosters look to stop an Eels side who have won on their last two visits to the Sydney Football Stadium.

One positive for Fittler is the availability of Jake Friend after a two-match ban imposed by the NRL after he was caught drink-driving last month.

Friend is named on the interchange bench and Fittler is pleased with how the 19-year-old has reacted to his punishment.

"Jake has settled back in well, he has worked hard with the rehab group for two weeks and he's extremely sorry for what he did," Fittler said.

"You can tell that by the way he has carried himself over the last couple of weeks."

The Roosters can take confidence from last year's excellent display against the Eels when their Origin-depleted side won 32-12 at Parramatta Stadium and Fittler said there was no reason why they cannot repeat that performance.

"Last year when we played .. we were without six or seven players and playing-wise we are pretty comfortable. It is just something we just have to deal with," he said.

"I think any side that is confident these days and has a bit of belief can win games, regardless of who's playing.

"If you look at Manly this season and some of their performances, it's all about the mindset when you go into the game rather than who goes out there."

Jarryd Hayne's displays at five-eighth for the Eels have come under scrutiny with the NSW Origin star booed by his own supporters during the 18-16 win over Canberra.

However, he does have a big supporter in the shape of the former Kangaroos and NSW No.6.

"I think he has been great. There was a time during our trial match with Parramatta when he took on our line a couple of times to change the game," Fittler said.

"And he did it last week as well with the intercept. He is a big, strong kid and is one of those blokes who can take the structure out of your game and that makes him more dangerous."

With two defeats in their first three games, Fittler admitted he had found the going tough, but is convinced the form his side showed for most of last season is just around the corner.

"It's been tough and sometimes you question yourself and ask are you doing things right," he said.

"But you have to stick with what you believe in and by doing that I am sure it will come right."

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