Roosters coach Trent Robinson admits he's frustrated and angry with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves after the veteran prop was wiped out of the NRL finals due to his latest case of ill-discipline. Waerea-Hargreaves rolled the dice and lost at the NRL judiciary this week, copping a massive seven-week ban for two separate incidents in his side's round 26 defeat of the Wests Tigers.
The veteran prop accepted his three-game ban for a headbutt on Stefano Utoikamanu, but tried unsuccessfully to have his dangerous contact charge downgraded for a high shot on Api Koroisau that sparked the melee with Utoikamanu. The seven-week ban means Waerea-Hargreaves will play no part in the finals series - if the Roosters even qualify for it - and the veteran prop will also be missing for a chunk of the 2024 season.
How long the Roosters enforcer is out for in 2024 will depend on how many more games the Tri Colours play in 2023, as well as whether end-of-season Tests for New Zealand count towards his ban. The Roosters were left particularly frustrated by the fact Waerea-Hargreaves' hit on Koroisau came late on against the Tigers when the game was already won.
Trent Robinson disappointed in Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
It means Robinson's side are now missing their most experienced player for Friday night's must-win clash against fierce rivals, South Sydney. The result will determine who misses out on finals footy, with Robinson admitting he's angry with Waerea-Hargreaves for letting his team down ahead of such a vital game.
"Yep I am. I think it's only natural to be that way," Robinson said. "That doesn't change the way that I think about him or the care that I have for him.
"But of course, you're angry because you represent the club and we're all fighting for something. And for him not to be there to be a part of that is disappointing."
Waerea-Hargreaves is one of the most feared enforcers in the NRL but has a chequered history when it comes to discipline, having been charged six times across the NRL and international rugby league in the past 12 months alone. Robinson says he'll sit down and have a chat about the issue with his veteran prop when the time is right, but hopes his latest suspension is a line-in-the-sand moment for the 34-year-old.
"It's seven weeks, so you'd like to think (it's a line-in-the-sand moment)," Robinson said. "That was unnecessary. Last weekend, it didn't need to happen in the context of the game.
"His intimidation is an important part of the game, and people enjoy watching that, but that didn't feel like it was one of those moments. Seven weeks is a quarter of a season. It's a long time."
Joey Manu injury adds to Roosters' woes
Compounding the pain for Robinson and the Roosters is an injury to Joey Manu that's ruled the superstar out of Friday night's crucial clash with the Rabbitohs. A hamstring injury for Manu means the Roosters will be missing two of their biggest stars, with Corey Allan drafted in to face his old club.
The Roosters will be boosted by the return of inspirational skipper James Tedesco, who takes over the fullback role after serving his 11-day concussion stand-down period. Playing the best football they have all year, the Roosters will need to beat Souths and then hope either North Queensland or Canberra lose in order to make the finals. The Cowboys face a daunting away trip to the second-placed Panthers, while the Raiders take on the sixth-placed Sharks in Cronulla.
If the Roosters do qualify, Robinson said he expected to have Manu back for their elimination final. "He's pretty good. He ran the AlterG (anti-gravity treadmill) the other day," Robinson added.
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