Sydney Roosters drop double bombshell
THE Roosters have finally settled on a replacement for game-breaking centre Latrell Mitchell.
Edge forward Angus Crichton will return to his schoolboy rugby union position as a centre when the NRL premiers play St Helens in the World Club Challenge this weekend in England.
The Roosters trained on Barcelona's Olympic Stadium on Monday with Crichton at left centre.
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"He's certainly fast enough," coach Trent Robinson said.
"If he settles there and puts his mind to it he could become one of the best centres in the competition."
The Roosters have still not given up hope of convincing the Cronulla Sharks to release veteran centre John Morris but Robinson is confident Crichton can get the job done in the meantime.
But in a blow for Roosters fans, skipper Boyd Cordner has been ruled out of the World Club Challenge on Saturday night at St Helens.
Robinson and his coaching staff have been concerned for some time about Cordner's extra workload in rep football as the NSW and Australian captain.
He has played 60 games for the Roosters in the last three seasons plus Origin and Tests.
His off-season program this year has been designed around him being ready to start in round one against the Panthers.
"We've been having discussions for a while about managing my workload," Cordner said.
"Long term we think this is the best way to go. It's really hard to miss a game like the World Club Challenge but it's been a big few years.
"We're looking at the bigger picture. I'll be fresh mentally and physically for round one."
Veteran Mitch Aubusson and Sitili Tupouniua will be the starting edge forwards.
The Roosters head of performance Travis Touma says 27-year-old Cordner will benefit long term from not playing this weekend.
"Boyd had big campaigns for six or seven years and missed a few pre-seasons," Touma said.
"Because he's so important to the team, getting some quality time in the gym was the best thing for him and the team."
Crichton was a POD pick before this news with just 4.4% ownership, and I predict that number to decline on this news. As a Roosters fan I'm all in on the move because I think the Mighty Angus has the hands and footwork to make it work, but the shift from second row to centre will see a drop in base stats and therefore he is not a player to invest in to start 2020 but rather one to add to your watchlist and grab later in the season when salary cap pressure eases.
Crichton's shift does create an 80-minute edge-sized hole and I'm hoping that Nat Butcher is the man the Roosters select to fill it. When Boyd Cordner was rested around Origin it was Butcher who stepped up playing the full 80 minutes in rounds 16 and 17. The former South Eastern Seagulls junior made the most of his opportunity scoring 98 points (57 points in base and a try) and 75 points (61 points in base). Boasting a superb workrate, Butcher averaged 1.18 PPM last year and while he is awkwardly priced at $522,800 he certainly has the ability to quickly join the ranks of the second-row keepers should he be locked in for an 80 minute role in 2020.