Cordner’s call: Roosters ready to hit top gear
BOYD Cordner is not a man to come out with big, brash statements just because he likes the sound of his own voice.
So when the unassuming Sydney Roosters captain says "we want to win the comp again", it's probably time for the challengers to start feeling more nervous than they have all season.
With State of Origin now behind them, Trent Robinson took the Roosters into a two-day camp at Avoca on the Central Coast to get them primed for their run to the finals.
And what last weekend's 48-10 thumping of Newcastle confirmed was "the hunger is still there" to do what no team has done since Brisbane won back-to-back titles in 1992-93 and 1997-98 in the split Super league comp.
"There has obviously been talk about (going) back-to-back and it is no secret that we want to win the comp again," Cordner said.
"We believe that we have the squad to do it.
"It has been hard work so far but there is still a hell of a lot of hard work to do.
"I think that is the reason we are up here.
"We want to regroup and get on the same page because we definitely want to give it a red hot crack.
"We will have a few meetings about what we want to do as a team leading into the back end of the year.
"Throughout that Origin period we had a lot of players out and injuries also, so it is just basically connecting again.
"It is such a long season and it is a rollercoaster.
"But I thought we have done pretty good to tell you the truth, and our hunger is definitely there.
"We had success and the good times and memories from last year and we want that again."
Cordner said the team was shattered for co-captain Jake Friend after his luckless run continued.
Friend will have surgery on Tuesday to insert a plate in his arm, with the injury near a screw that was previously inserted to fix his torn bicep.
It was only his second game back from the biceps injury that kept him sidelined for almost three months.
"It is pretty tough to see how much he is hurting," Cordner said.
"He will be missed again but knowing Jake he will be back on the field as soon as he can."
Victor Radley and Sam Verrills will share the dummy-half responsibilities during Friends absence, starting on Sunday when they take on the Bulldogs.
Cordner took a moment on Monday to reflect just how far his own career has come since being fast-tracked into the Roosters's first-grade squad as a 16-year-old.
Now regarded as one of the most understated yet fearless players in the NRL, Cordner has claimed consecutive State of Origin titles as NSW skipper along with taking charge as Australian Test captain while leading the Roosters to last year's premiership (he also played in the 2013 grand final win).
"I am 27 now and I always think about that," Cordner said.
"When I was 16 and first came down to train with the full-time squad, blokes like Willie Mason and Mark O'Meley and Fitzy (now Roosters defensive coach Craig Fitzgibbon) were still playing.
"Honestly, I look at 16 year olds these days and think 'Wow, you are so young'.
"But at the time I was just so keen and eager and I obviously didn't feel and look like a normal 16-year-old.
"It is just amazing to think back then and how far I have come.
"We are very lucky to be a part of a great club and we have a great coach.
"It is a credit to 'Robbo' because he is the leader of this club.
"We all love him as players and he just wants to be better and better all the time. He is never complacent. He is never happy with where we are at.
"He definitely has the utmost respect of the playing group and we just all want to play well for him.
"And not only for him but the club and the history of the club.
"The opportunity we have, we don't want to let this opportunity slip."