Five months after helping Australia to World Cup glory, Roosters forward Angus Crichton steps back onto the field in NSW Cup on Saturday with the support of coach Trent Robinson and the entire rugby league community behind him.
After taking time away from the game to receive treatment for a bipolar disorder, the 27-year-old is set to line up against Newtown at Henson Park with Robinson confident that “it won’t be too long before he is back in NRL”.
Dismissing any concerns that Crichton could be the target of sledging over his mental health issues, Robinson was adamant players would not lower themselves to that level.
“I think our game has been very good with that and our players have been really good right across the board with… we’re human, we’re imperfect,” Robinson told the media on Thursday.
“There’s no better place than rugby league to know that’s the case and people accept that. We often have people around us and stories of family and friends so I just think he’ll be straight back into it as normal.
“He is in really good shape physically and the plan is to get him started and play 50 to 80 minutes depending on how the game is going.
“He has been really good at training so it’s time to start playing. He missed a lot of that pre-season period and you can’t replicate that during the season so we need to ramp it up through reserve grade.”
Sitting seventh with a 3-2 record the Roosters travel to PointsBet Stadium on Friday to confront one of last year’s finalists for the fourth game in a row, following wins over the Rabbitohs and Eels and a 28-8 loss to the Storm in Round 6.
The 20-point margin in Melbourne was the Roosters’ heaviest defeat since Round 11 last year against eventual premiers Penrith, but Robinson said his side was clear about their lessons to come out of it and “steely about how we want to approach this game”.
“We’re clear on who the Sharks have been the last couple of years and we know their system of play,” he said.
“It’s up to us to make sure we pressure that and make sure Nicho [Hynes] doesn’t get the time that he got in the first 20 minutes against Warriors.”
One man who has come under scrutiny in the wake of the Storm defeat is Victor Radley, who was sin binned in the first half for a late shot on Cameron Munster.
In his absence the Storm ran in two tries to turn an 8-6 deficit into an 18-8 lead and critics again lined up to accuse Radley of letting his team down with his ill-discipline.
It’s a theory Robinson was quick to pour cold water on ahead of the showdown with a Sharks outfit sure to be smarting after giving up a 20-point lead against the Warriors and having two weeks to stew on it.
“Victor has been really good this year, his temperament has been really good,” Robinson said.
“He’s been going after the games in the way that we want to see it and he had a little blip there but let’s not sit on it for too long.
“It’s not as simple as sitting down and saying ‘stop doing that’. That’s not how players work.
“That’s not the attitude you want them to play with and there’s a fine line for the guys in that position.
“It’s about the maturity and the moulding of himself at different times. He knows where his game is at and where it is headed.”
In a major boost to their hopes of victory the Roosters welcome back skipper James Tedesco from concussion protocols and prop Matt Lodge from a facial fracture.
Lodge hasn’t played since the season opener against the Dolphins and Robinson is looking forward to having the 101-gamer back in the fold.
“Matt has been a top-level player for us so to get him back in there and coming off the bench for us is key,” Robinson said.
“His size and carry as well as his intelligence around the game is important so to get him back in is really good.”