Sydney Roosters right- edge players Mitch Aubusson and Joseph Manu have heaped praise on new halfback Cooper Cronk for the way he has directed control of their defence and attack through the pre-season.
Leading into the club’s season-opener on Saturday against Wests Tigers, young gun Manu described Cronk as the best halfback in the world and stated his desire to make the red, white and blue combination the best right side in the NRL.
“Cooper is the best halfback in the world and to learn off him is pretty special,” Manu told NRL.com.
“Working alongside him with his defence, he’s got a bit of a different system now to Melbourne but I feel like we’ve been gelling pretty well. Just learning everything I can off him.”
Having Cronk join the club was like having an extra coach in the team, he added.
“Sometimes, he sits us down for a meeting like our coach,” Manu laughed.
“He’s very professional. I think it’s going good, we’ve been working a lot together, doing video sessions together, I feel like we’re connecting well. We want to be the best right edge in the comp.”
That edge is also likely to feature Blake Ferguson on the wing with Ryan Matterson to feature along with Aubusson in an edge back row role. Manu said he just hopes that he personally can lock down a starting centre spot on that flank.
His only other goal? “Yeah, win the comp,” he smiled. “We talked about it with all the boys. That will be a big goal for me, is to win the premiership.”
The premiership favourites can expect to be well tested by the Tigers on Saturday, according to Aubusson.
“This time of year the first few rounds are always really tough. Everyone’s excited and keen to play some footy and fresh and obviously both teams have had a host of changes through the off season,”
Aubusson told NRL.com.
“We need to sort ourselves out firstly and make sure we’re doing the things we want to do and then we’ll look at the Tigers and make sure we do what we want to do.
“It’s going to be a great contest, they’ve bought really well during the off season, they’re a completely different team to last year. But that all goes out the window, now we have to do a bit of homework on them.”
Aubusson also had plenty of praise for his fellow right-edge members.
“[Cronk] has fit in really well, he’s a world class player so it’s something special to have that sort of guys outside you. We’ll hopefully build and keep going through the year,” he said.
“[Manu] is really good. He’s a special talent Joey, I really enjoy playing with him. I really enjoyed the last few years watching him develop. He’s worked really hard this pre-season, he’s ready to go.”