Roosters primed for big September as NRL great heaps praise on controversial recruit Matt Lodge

After an up-and-down campaign in 2022, Trent Robinson appears to have primed the Sydney Roosters for a grand entry into the Finals series.

After losing four straight games in June and July, the Tricolors bounced back and won six straight games, including a whopping 72-6 triumph over the Tigers in Round 23.

Luke Keary has been at his best since returning from a long break from concussion, while James Tedesco and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves have led by example over the past six weeks.

But keep talking 100% footy On Monday night, NRL legend Paul Gallen praised Matt Lodge, who was recruited mid-season, for his influence on the side.

“He was great – when I saw him sign with the Roosters I have to admit I scratched my head a bit,” Gallen said.

“He’s not a player with the history he had that the Roosters would normally sign. They left this year because they were frivolous and he was amazing.

“He’s got a big body and a strong core, he’s an intimidating type of player.

“If you have him and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves up front, they can take on anyone.

“Roosters are really starting to find a form. They have some good players – James Tedesco, JWH, Radley are doing fantastic.

“I think for the first time in history we’re going to see a winner who isn’t in the top four.”

With games against the Storm and Rabbitohs in the final two rounds, Robinson’s side still need a win to secure a spot in September.

And while there’s an inner belief that they’re ready to go for the title, Phil Gould isn’t sure the Roosters have enough in the tank to win five or six straight games against top-flight opponents.

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“[They are] back to their speed of play – they attack at the advantage line and gallop across the advantage line,” he said.

“They were a bit of a ‘stand and pass’ earlier in the year – I think Keary and [Sam] Walker was on the wrong side of the field and they revived that.

“Everyone looks fit and strong again, they also have a few players coming back. Roosters have been there before, they’ve been down this path before.

“It will be very difficult for them – they still have to make the eight. That game against South Sydney in the last game of the year could be crucial for both clubs.

“You have to win a lot of games to get big and then play against a team like the Panthers.

“They’re a team that could beat Panthers on the big finals day – my problem is I don’t know if they can do five or six wins in a row to get there.”

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