Last Thursday, after being thumped in the Anzac Day match against the Dragons, the Roosters made the long, exhausting trip over the Harbour Bridge to teammate Cooper Cronks $3.5 million home at Mosman for a barbecue.
In between solving the problems of the world over the Jatz and dip, we cant help but wonder if any of the players asked a delicate question …
“Um, Coops … Any danger of firing a shot this season, big fella?”
On the surface, its a valid question: according to Champion Data, Cronk has provided just three try assists and two line-break assists so far this season.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson can bang on as much as he wants about building houses and foundations but the very costly Cronk experiment — reportedly at $1 million per season and at the expense of the popular Mitchell Pearce — is yet to really bear fruit.
Lets ponder the obvious hypothetical question: if the Roosters had also kept Pearce as they wanted, instead of granting him a release to the Knights, would they have dropped Cronk — one of the most dominant halfbacks in the past decade — or persisted with an attack thats as smooth as sandpaper?
Cronk didnt sign with the Roosters until late October but the Roosters can hardly complain about taking time to adjust with a new-look team. Theyve added one of the great halfbacks to their line-up, along with one of the games best fullbacks in James Tedesco.
Teams like the Dragons and Knights have had greater upheaval and player turnover, yet they are playing with far greater fluency than the eastern suburbs glamour club that always gets the biggest names, the best players.
Some judges could forecast this early season pain with Cronk coming into the Roosters side.
Its become a cliché about how structured, almost robotic, his game is. Thats not a criticism. Playing under the Peoples Republic of Craig Bellamy, he rarely made a mistake when he was in his pomp. He is what he is.
Better judges than this one will tell you the game has changed, though. The teams that play structured footy are beginning to struggle. Defences are too well-drilled, too disciplined, and especially so with the increase in penalties when players are given more time to recover before defending another set.
There has been talk for the last week or so about the Roosters completely changing their attack to a less structured style and it will be fascinating to see if Cronk can bend and become something that he is not — or less comfortable with — as the season unfolds.
The year is only young but the Roosters are four-and-four and anything less than a big win over a broken Manly side at Allianz Stadium on Sunday will be considered a setback.
The Dragons were great on Anzac Day but Roosters fans surely left Allianz frustrated.
Modern-day centres dont seem to get the ball much at all these days but Latrell Mitchell — for mine, the most exciting young player in the game, and that includes Kalyn Ponga — may as well start wearing long sleeve jumpers, hes that underused.
The man that matters the most — Roosters chairman Nick Politis — is not panicking. He sees players hurting over their start to the season and knows they are not taking it lightly.
But the Roosters are a club that counts success in premierships. They bought Cronk, just as they bought Sonny Bill Williams a few years back, to deliver one.
Theyre a long away from it.
Reporter stood down
Channel Seven reporter Josh Massoud has been stood down after allegedly verbally abusing a 21-year-old male colleague.
It is understood Massoud took umbrage at the Brisbane-based reporter tweeting that Todd Carney had walked out on his deal with the Cowboys to return to Sydney to be closer to a sick family member before Massoud had the chance to break the yarn on Sevens 6pm bulletin.
Massoud has not appeared on Seven for the last two days and did not appear on his usual Thursday morning Big Sports Breakfast segment.
He declined to comment when contacted on Thursday. So, too, Seven news director Jason Morrison.
What about this weeks hatchet job on poor old Ruan Sims, who sacked herself as a Dally M judge after sending in votes for a match she didnt watch?
Sure, shes stuffed up but the coverage has been way over the top.
And lets get real: the Dally Ms have hardly been the most well-organised awards, dating all the way back to when the great Ray Warren once called the gold Dally M the “gold Logie” while hosting the gala event.
Channel Nines Neil Breen recalled on 100% Footy on Monday night a story from his time at News Corp — the long-time organisers of the award until handing over the rights to the NRL this year.
Breen said during the early 2000s there had been a big clean-up of the Holt Street offices and the box with all of the Dally M votes went missing. It was later found in a dumpster.
Then there was the time when a veteran reporter once allocated votes to a player who wasnt even playing.
Sims is devastated about this weeks events, fearing she may have hurt the credibility of the womens game.
Which isnt the case: she will always be a trailblazer, despite this one little slip-up.
Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps showed Rugby Australia how to cut a scandal off at the head when he fronted the media and called himself a “goose” for urinating on the bar at the Woollahra Hotel while wearing a cow suit on his bucks night.
(Look, were not condoning this sort of behaviour but … it happens).
If only RA had dealt with the Israel Folau situation a little quicker, eh?
Perhaps the most interesting thing out of the entire episode, however, was Phipps punishment: a $4000 fine and he lost the Tahs captaincy.
Could you imagine the outrage, the social media storm, the angry columns and then the huge fine meted out if this had been a rugby league player? Or the Roosters?
“Or Mitchell Pearce?” observed one league powerbroker.
Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald
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