Roosters co-captain Jake Friend has copped plenty of flak for his performances in the Roosters’ spluttering start to the season, but the front-row pillars either side of him haven’t exactly been pulling their weight either.
Last week the Burgess brothers – George and Tom – and their Souths teammates ripped through the Tricolours’ middle at will, with Damien Cook praising them for paving the way for him to run roughshod over their traditional rivals.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Dylan Napa missed five tackles apiece in what Trent Robinson labelled “a very concerning” defensive effort in the middle, continuing the pair’s slow start to the season.
While the Roosters’ lowly completion rates haven’t helped, Waerea-Hargreaves and Napa are hitting nothing like the heights they have in recent years.
Waerea-Hargreaves is making almost 40 per cent less in running metres compared to the past three seasons when he was also good for at least one offload and tackle bust per game.
The big Kiwi has only two tackle breaks and three offloads across six games in 2018.
Napa is in a similar boat, averaging around 23 metres less a game, with his post-contact metres and total runs also dropping away.
The third key figure in the Roosters’ prop rotation, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, is more or less matching his outputs in recent seasons (111 running metres, just shy of 20 tackles a game), justifying his elevation to the starting line-up.
But the struggles of Waerea-Hargreaves and Napa, who have been known as two of the Telstra Premiership’s most feared enforcers, is being mirrored by Friend, who has less room to move around the ruck and less impact as a result.