Coach Trent Robinson has denied the Sydney Roosters are sluggish or distracted by the Sonny Bill Williams NRL hype, despite the defending premiers leaving it until the 51st minute to hit the lead against the Warriors.
After a tough loss nine days earlier to Canberra, players were given five days off to recover and refresh leading into the second half of the season.
Robinson said while the break in training had had the desired effect, in the limited time they had to prepare for the Warriors, they focused mainly on sharpening up the ‘Bondi wall’.
And in turn, their attack suffered.
“‘I think we looked like a team that had five days off and wanted to work in its defence,” he said after the 18-10 win on Saturday afternoon in Gosford.
“We looked like a team that worked really hard for each other.”
It follows a week of headlines surrounding Williams and the club’s attempts to sign the former All Black for the final month of the regular competition.
And while the fanfare over his potential return to the NRL after six years could have been a distraction, Robinson denied it had any impact on the side.
“We barely even mentioned it. We spent 30 seconds on it to tell the boys what we were thinking and then we moved on,” he said.
“That wasn’t sluggish.
“That was a team that weren’t really connected that just had five days off and needed a rest; came back in two days ago and got going and decided to work really hard on some things and what happens is that disconnects others.
“I really enjoyed watching it from a different point of view.”
On Friday night, Williams tweeted he was headed into quarantine, but Robinson said there had been no update on his contract situation or relocation to Australia, which remained a complicated process.
“This is pretty unprecedented and it causes a lot of interest, as normal,” he said.
“Sonny Bill is a really good person and a really good footy player but, on a world stage, he creates a lot of interest which is great for our game.
“And then you add in all the different stuff that goes in it with Toronto, COVID-19, quarantine, flights, everything like that.
“There’s a lot of things to do.”