Roosters welcome being the NRL hunted

Steve Zemek
Sydney Roosters added the World Club Challenge to their trophy cabinet last month

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson expects his reigning premiers to be the hunted this NRL season.

But he says that's nothing new for them, arguing the Tri-Colours' rich history of success and status as a power club have always ensured there's a target on their backs.

The Roosters begin their 2019 campaign at the SCG on Friday as they seek to become the first team in 26 years to win back-to-back titles in a united competition.

Fittingly, their opener is against South Sydney, who are overseen by master mentor Wayne Bennett - the last man to win successive NRL grand finals (with Brisbane in 1992-93).

Bennett suggested winning a premiership came with added pressure.

"Everybody lifts for you because they know you're the top team from last year and you're the benchmark," he said.

"So it gets a bit more difficult for you, you don't have an easy game at any stage."

But Robinson, who has taken the Roosters to two grand final wins and four minor premierships in his six years in charge, shrugged at the prospect of being the side that every team circles on their schedule.

"It probably has been (the case) at other clubs. But we're the Roosters, you don't have down weeks," he said.

"When do we not go into games where we're not favourites? Or there's not a spotlight on us?

"There's a lot of people that look for an underdog tag to get an advantage, we don't subscribe to that theory.

"We want to get out there and play our footy."

The Rabbitohs have been boosted with skipper Greg Inglis to take his place after his recovery from a knee injury.

While Robinson allayed fears about star recruit Angus Crichton's shoulder injury and confirmed he will take his place and meet his former side for the first time.

Crichton was rested from the World Club Challenge win but played 60 minutes of the Roosters' trial loss to Manly.

The NSW star will come off the bench, with Mitchell Aubusson to start.

"We got him here because he's a world-class player," Robinson said of Crichton.

"I know there's been a bit made of it but Angus and the guys are real clear that it's a team sport and they've been working towards building great combinations."

STATS THAT MATTER

* Sydney Roosters and South Sydney meet for the 220th time with the Rabbitohs having 113 wins to 101 with five draws.

* The Roosters have won six of their past eight clashes with the Rabbitohs including last year's preliminary final.

* The Roosters will celebrate several milestones with Cooper Cronk to run out in his 350th first-grade game, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves his 200th and Boyd Cordner his 150th.