Robbo toying with surprise call on injured Roosters star
SYDNEY Roosters coach Trent Robinson insists it's necessary for him to see his full-strength team, including star recruits James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk, before the NRL season begins.
With Tedesco floored by the mumps, the Roosters fielded just a handful of their first-grade regulars in a 30-18 pre-season loss to Penrith on Saturday.
However, Robinson is likely to field his best 17 in next week's final trial against Manly on the Central Coast, including the possible return of five-eighth Luke Keary.
Keary appeared to be in doubt for round one after breaking his jaw at training in late January but could be a late inclusion to get some game time against the Sea Eagles.
"He's training, so we've just got to see whether we give it an extra two weeks or not. The plate strengthens it enough so you can play, but the crack's still there behind it," Robinson said.
"It still does take six weeks for the bone to heal so therefore, it'll be a doctor's decision."
A rested Cronk was watching from the stands against the Panthers, while Tedesco was quarantined from the team after joining Mitch Aubusson in catching the mumps.
Asked about their status, Robinson said: "They're good. They'll be right next week."
The high-profile recruitments mean the Roosters are set to the start the season as premiership favourites, but Robinson said it is still vital for him to see his team build chemistry in Gosford.
"The combinations at training are the crucial ones because they're the ones that you see, but you want to have a run before the comp starts," he said.
"That's what we want to see next week but we just have to see with Luke."
Robinson confirmed back-up Mitch Cornish would step into the halves should Keary not recover in time to take on the Wests Tigers on March 10.
"He's an experienced back-up half now and I really like him as a footy player. He's getting that experience (now). He'll be the one that'll jump in if Luke doesn't play," Robinson said.