The last few months preparing for the NRL season have been long and arduous. As the season gets ready to kick off, here are my thoughts on the upcoming year.
Each offseason gets tougher for every team, and ours hasn’t been an exception. But with a new coach, new CEO and new staff, there’s a fresh vibe around Roosters HQ.
Sonny Bill Williams, Michael Jennings, James Maloney and Luke O’Donnell come into the squad this year and will add significant firepower. They are big-name players with loads of experience, which will be very important for our younger boys.
The Sonny Bill factor
Everyone wants to know about SBW, which is understandable. He’s a huge drawcard and has achieved great success in both rugby league and rugby union in various parts of the world.
Perhaps the most pleasing thing about Sonny from my perspective is how seamlessly he has fit into the group. Without knowing him, you may expect a few airs and graces, but there is none of that – he is a very humble guy who works extremely hard and has proven to be a popular addition since arriving at the club.
This year I will wear the captain’s armband, which is one of my proudest career achievements to date.
I have been at Moore Park for 17 seasons now, 14 in first grade, and have experienced many highs and lows throughout that period. Unfortunately, I’m now closer to the end than the start, but I’m hoping for a few more stories for the grandkids before those boots are hung up for good.
Who to watch out for
Looking around the competition, I see tough sides everywhere. Melbourne, Canterbury and Manly enter as favourites again, but I’m counting on the Rabbitohs to be there at the business end of the season.
We have always enjoyed a massive rivalry with Souths, and 2013 won’t be any different. Being so close and so competitive, there is a mutual dislike between both clubs, which I think is great for the fans. You always know when the derby game is coming up – everyone from the coaches to the players and backroom staff build up to it and there’s an extra intensity around the place.
Fortunately, we get first crack at them in a few weeks to kick off the season (Thursday night footy on March 7 at Allianz Stadium). We’ll be looking for a big win to get things moving in the right direction early this year, and from there who knows what will happen?
I’d love nothing more than lift the NRL trophy alongside these boys in October, but there’s plenty to be done between now and then.