The season may only be nine rounds old, but already the Sydney Roosters can look back and confidently say they are a much better team than they were at any point in 2016.
Their six wins so far this year equals their entire haul from last season, and heading into Round 10 the Roosters sit fifth on the ladder, tied on points with the second-placed Dragons after a solid start to their campaign.
Prop Dylan Napa said it was a point which hadn’t been lost on the playing group, suggesting a better run with injuries and improved attitudes across the board were the main reasons for their resurgence.
“‘Robbo’ (coach Trent Robinson) had a little joke to me [before the Round 9 match against the Warriors] about getting our sixth win in Round 8, which equalled how many wins we had last year,” Napa said.
“That is the difference between this year and last year and it’s only the first third of the season.
“I think it comes down to a bit of health, less injuries and also our attitude towards training and the fact that everyone has their eyes on the same goal.
“We all respect each other and want to do the best by each other to succeed. That’s the big difference between this year and last year.”
Through nine matches the Tricolours possess the third-best defensive record in the NRL, leaking just 15.7 per match on average.
It marks a drastic improvement on last year’s effort off the ball for the Bondi club, after averaging 24 points against per game in 2016 to finish ahead of only the Newcastle Knights in terms of the worst defensive clubs in the competition.
Fullback Michael Gordon, who has been among the Roosters’ best in his first season with the club, said he believed they had only scratched the surface in terms of what they could achieve on the field.
Very happy to see Michael Gordon do well at the Roosters, he’s a top fella.
— Clinton Maynard (@ClintMaynard2UE) March 4, 2017
“We still haven’t even gone close to playing our best yet which is the most impressive thing,” Gordon said.
“It’s still early in the season and now is where it starts getting into that weekly grind so we just have to stick at it.
“We are in a good position at 6-3, it would have been better to have gone into the international break 7-2, but that’s footy.
“We are right in the mix so it’s a solid start to the season.”