Make or break for reeling Roosters
IT'S only round four but for last year's minor premiers, the Sydney Roosters, the finals have come six months early.
Still winless and having conceded more than 100 points in losses to Souths (42-10), Canberra (21-20) and last weekend's 40-0 shut out by premier North Queensland, the Roosters' moment of truth has arrived early.
It's no use waiting for injured stars such as Jared Waerea-Hargraves, Boyd Cordner, Vincent Leuluai, Dale Copley or stood-down halfback organiser Mitchell Pearce to return because that will be too late.
The Roosters need to fire up against a Manly side still finding its feet after a number of positional changes but who looked a lot better in opening their account with a win over the Sharks, 22-12, last weekend.
Helping the Roosters' cause will be the absence of Manly enforcer Martin Taupau, who will miss the game after his high shot on Sharks star Jack Bird last weekend.
Manly will also have big forward Brenton Lawrence sitting in the stands with Taupau after he too was suspended though the week.
On a positive note for Manly coach Trent Barrett, he is likely to welcome back Jamie Buhrer from a broken jaw suffered during the Auckland Nines in February.
Fiery customer Darcy Lussick will replace Lawrence and his clashes with young Roosters firebrand Dylan Napa will be one of several highlights
Manly looked a lot sharper against the Sharks with Brett Stewart back at fullback and also with young hooker Matt Parcell providing his forwards with quick service.