The GF Head to Head – the Second Rowers


The GF Head to Head - the Second Rowers

by Smithy

The Second Rowers – these are very real match ups  – “mano-a- mano”  - but maybe miss-matches?

Williams on Horo – right v left – footy hero versus footy horo!

I guess no-one will underestimate either the challenge for Justin H but what everyone (except SBW) will do is underestimate the young back rower from tough family stock! Mark his father, a Kiwi international, would likely take the challenge on himself if coach Toovey gave him a late call-up, an indication of the expectation and confidence young Justin has grown up with.

I have some good news, maybe, for Horo the younger. SBW is likely to go play some lock and not stay right side for the duration. The bad news is he will then have to face the versatile Aiden Guerra switching from left to accommodate Mitch Aubusson or Boyd Cordner as he did last weekend for a double of tries!

The back row depth of the Roosters is an example of the recruitment and development across the board at all levels in almost all positions over a 4 or 5 year period.

Horo can hit back with his great line running threat – he is no slouch as a footy player as well as an imposing athlete. Since arriving “homeless” after being not required by the Eels he has shown his talents in a quality team. And in both departments, as he is part of that great left edge D of the Eagles too!

Being double or triple teamed by such talented second row opponents will none the less be a huge job – good help required and likely.

Horo is likely to be subbed later by Tom Symonds, the only true Roosters junior on the field. He will be bursting with a large dose of whatever it takes for him to secure the win for his new club. Coach Toovey has been innovative in holding him back for the final passage of the game. This suits Symonds although he may not like the role. He has got real footy skills and awareness but his body is not up for long or early minutes. When it’s all a bit slower and just a little less whack he might just jag a winning play especially if the Eagles are within reach of the scoreboard.

Meanwhile on the other side Manly will be targeting a victory plan of attack. Guerra will start left side but likely be rotated to other parts for Aubusson or Cordner. Between them all lies a key to the battle.

One thing that won’t change will be the relentless pursuit of Maloney by that potent group of attackers – Cherry-Evans working with right second rower Glen Stewart and his mob. His brother Brett will be a really big weapon as usual looking for potential points and so often finding them.  Jamie Lyon and David Williams lurking on the outside means Maloney gaining assistance from Jennings and Tupou is very necessary but also near on impossible. Gaining that assistance from the inside won’t be easy either as DCE will hold Guerra up by his own threat to attack the line as well as Guerra’s lack of agility to turn out and go hard. Cordner too tends to bite hard to his inside so Aubusson might be the best bet to assist Roosters #6.

Make no mistake G Stewart is a five-eighth in every other way than his number and attitude! He is mean and nasty like a forward and will make it very physically uncomfortable for Maloney (or anyone else). But the thing that sets him apart from almost every other second rower is his awareness, confidence in his extravagant skill set and the belief and support in combinations of his mob. Have a look at that first try for Manly vs Rabbits – a superb LEFT footed perfectly weighted grubber kick which his brother swooped on! Unbelievably classy!

Stewart looked well below his best early season but looks trimmed up right now. “Cherry ripe” as they say.

Now I am starting to get really excited about this contest.

“Roosters to win” seemed a pretty common and reasonable call early in the week or me. After this head to head exercise I feel it’s a lot closer than many are thinking. 

More on that tomorrow!