ROOSTERS 26 WARRIORS 8
Evasive ... Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello. Photo: Getty Images
EVEN as he informed ''breathless'' teammates of his departure, Sydney Roosters captain Braith Anasta was trying to use the news to inspire them to last night's upset defeat of the Warriors.
After dedicating their best performance of the season to Anasta, Roosters players revealed how he told them he was joining Wests Tigers next season and implored others in the team to begin preparing to take over his leadership roles. ''That was for the skipper,'' prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves said of the 18-point win at Allianz Stadium.
Mitchell Aubusson of the Roosters scores a try. Photo: Getty Images
''I honestly reckon that was a fair bit of what tonight was about.
''He has been a great leader and he is a great leader. I have a lot of respect for the skipper and he told us early in the week. We were a little bit breathless at the start but he said 'I need everyone here to stand up and be leaders. I can't be the only one here'. He led us tonight and we followed in his footsteps.''
Asked how players had reacted when Anasta told them he was leaving, Waerea-Hargreaves said: ''It made me go 'wow - the skipper'. But he played well tonight and hopefully we can do a good year for him''.
Anasta said he had addressed the players on Thursday because he felt it was important for them to hear the news from him. ''I didn't want to disrupt our preparation and I didn't want them to be shocked by it on game day,'' he said. ''They responded really well and it was really humbling for me. They definitely lifted tonight and it is a good feeling.''
Steeled by a belief they had played much better in Melbourne last Sunday than the 44-4 scoreline showed, the Roosters began with an intensity that blew the Warriors out of the game within 30 minutes.
Roosters coach Brian Smith made seven changes to the line-up he named last Tuesday and the move paid almost immediate dividends with centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall scoring in the fifth minute and having a try disallowed three minutes later.
Second-rower Mitch Aubusson and hooker Ant Mitchell also scored to give the Roosters a 16-0 lead before Jerome Ropati crossed for the Warriors six minutes before half-time.
But it was the way the Roosters outmuscled the Warriors in defence that most pleased their fans in the 13,021 crowd, with the only blemish being a high tackle that landed Waerea-Hargreaves on report.
Smith accused Warriors forward Ukuma Ta'ai of ''feigning'' an injury to get Waerea-Hargreaves reported and replays showed the tackle was little more than a slap.
The win was Smith's 300th as a first grade coach, but he preferred to pay tribute to Anasta. ''He just showed that he has got the right mental temperament to deal with stuff,'' Smith said.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS 26 (M Aubusson S Kenny-Dowall A Minichiello A Mitchell tries B Anasta 5 goals) bt WARRIORS 8 (G Fisiiahi J Ropati tries) at Allianz Stadium. Referee: Tony Archer, Tony De Las Heras. Crowd: 13,021.