Optimistic: Bryan Fletcher. Photo: Getty Images
Sydney Roosters proved a little over a decade ago that, in some instances, you do have to lose a grand final in order to win one. Now Bryan Fletcher, the former Roosters forward who helped the club to its last title in 2002, can see similarities between their run back then and the current campaign, which will end on Sunday against Manly.
In 2000, the Roosters secured an unexpected spot in the grand final, but were outclassed by Brisbane. In 2002 Ricky Stuart's team stormed home to win the title, with many of the same players in the squad, against the Warriors. Fletcher compared that 2000 defeat to the loss to St George Illawarra in 2010.
''In 2000, we just got to the grand final, and we sort of made up the numbers,'' Fletcher said.
''We shouldn't have won that (preliminary final) against Newcastle. We were on that high. We were getting beaten 16-2 at half-time and we stormed home. Although we got beaten 14-6, we were never in the game. And I just think we were happy to be there. When 2002 came, we were more experienced, and our defence was a lot better. This current mob, their defence is better than ours ever was.
''Without being disrespectful, the 2010 side, they were happy just to get there. This year, they expect to win, which was similar to us (in 2002).''
Roosters players on Thursday admitted they were mentally better prepared for Sunday's decider than they were three years ago.
''It's a completely different mindset and situation,'' halfback Mitchell Pearce said. ''I think 2010 was a bit of a tidal wave. Every final was like a little grand final for us. By the time we got to the grand final, part of us was just happy to be there.
''It was all a bit new for us. We probably learnt just to relax a bit. It's just another game of footy at the end of the day. It's no different to the semi last week or the semi against Manly in the first (final). We've just got to prepare as well as we can. It's become a habit for us.
''We obviously wanted to win [in 2010], but I think this year, we feel a little bit more stable.''