The Sydney Roosters Dynasty Is Far From Over

The New England Patriots dynasty lasted so long that there isn't one official beginning and end. Is it 2001 to 2004? Do you push it all the way out to 2019 just a year after winning their sixth NFL Super Bowl?

The Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls dynasty spanned across eight years throughout the '90s. They didn't win the NBA championship every year but also ended up with six.

Closer to home, Hawthorn made five Grand Finals in eight years while winning four flags between 2008 and 2015 including a three-peat (2013, 2014 and 2015).

They're all great dynasties.

In the NRL, the Sydney Roosters became the first team to win back-to-back premierships in 2018 and 2019. They finished 2nd on the ladder and fell out in the preliminary finals just a year earlier. In a unique 2020 season following two long premiership campaigns and with a handful of injuries to key players throughout the year, the Roosters still finished 4th with 14 wins. They made it look easy at times too.

Yet, as the clock ticked down to zero with the Canberra Raiders 22-18 in front on Friday night, the commentary around the Roosters defeat was that it has "ended the dynasty."

The typical definition of dynasty is "a succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in business, politics, or another field"

So, a succession of players from the same club who play a prominent role in rugby league?

Narrowed down to sports, a dynasty is "a team or individual that dominates their sport or league for an extended length of time."

One defeat does not end a dynasty.

One season without lifting the trophy does not end a dynasty.

While it may turn out to be true, it's premature to call Sydney's last loss the "end" of their dynasty. There is too much proven talent returning for 2021, too much young talent to develop, and a master coach in Trent Robinson at the forefront of it all.

Some numbers after Week 2 of the NRL Finals...


Roosters in 2020
Rank
NRL Average
Points
27.2
2nd
21.0
Linebreaks
5.3
1st
4.0
Tacklebreaks
33.0
1st
28.0
Running metres
1,781m
3rd
1,679m
Linebreak assists
4.0
1st
2.7
Tries
4.6
1st
3.6
Try assists
3.8
1st
2.8
Points conceded
17
5th
21.3
Tackles
374.4
3rd
351.4
Missed tackles
26.1
5th
28.1

Will losing Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Hall and Mitchell Aubusson have such an impact on the side that the Roosters won't be able to replicate similar numbers in 2021?

In James Tedesco, Luke Keary and Jake Friend, the Roosters will begin next season with one of the best spines in the NRL. Whether it be Kyle Flanagan, Lachlan Lam or Sam Walker filling the #7 jersey, the Tedesco, Keary and Friend trio will do the heavy lifting.

They may not have reached the heights in attack as consistently as they did in 2019, but the Roosters still finished the regular season with the most points scored in the competition with 552 at 27.6 points per game.

One of their most important weapons in attack, Victor Radley, went down in Round 7 and never returned too. He hangs off teammates in support through the middle of the field and is instrumental to their good ball attack as a ball-player. It's no coincidence that Flanagan was talked about as a promising young half with Radley in the side only to be dropped later in the season and forced to carry a lot of the blame for their latest loss without him there. Radley's ball-playing at the line made Flanagan's job easy; the young half rarely looked comfortable without his lock forward inside him.

So, the Roosters are set for creativity in 2021.

Out wide, Joseph Manu is arguably the best centre in the game and Daniel Tupou has just been recalled to the New South Wales State of Origin side following another excellent season. No centre broke more tackles than Manu's 70 in 2020 while no winger averaged more running metres per game than Tupou's 181 metres. That ensures Sydney's creative players have a strike weapon on either side of the field.

While the Morris twins are off-contract and yet to decide on their plans for 2021, Billy Smith and Matt Ikuvalu are waiting in the wings and ready for their chance at regular first-grade football.

Through the middle, Siosiua Taukeiaho is one of rugby league's premier forwards. He has the footwork to beat defenders with late movements at the line and the power to run straight over the top of them. Here he steps away from the sliding defender at marker and picks out the smaller hooker in the defensive line. He then breaks through while selling a dummy to Sitili Tupouniua who eventually scores under the posts. Beautiful.

Tupouniua himself is an excellent young prospect and looks set to fill the utility role left vacant by the retiring Aubusson. 

We've already touched on Radley and his importance to the side through the middle of the field. He has the New South Wales captain in Boyd Cordner on one side of him while Angus Crighton stands on the other. Cordner, in particular, could benefit from playing fewer games in 2020 after falling behind slightly towards the back end of the season. Crichton, on the other hand, is looking better every week 

With Isaac Liu, Nat Butcher and Lindsay Collins all returning next season, the Roosters run deep with versatile middle forwards that can all offer something different and provide Robinson with options when inevitable injuries hit.

The Roosters are still stacked and will be able to send out a premiership contending side when at full-strength next season:

1. Tedesco
2. Tupou
3. Morris/Smith
4. Manu
5. Morris/Ikuvalu
6. Keary
7. Flanagan/Lam/Walker
8. Waerea-Hargreaves
9. Friend
10. Taukeiaho
11. Cordner
12. Crichton
13. Radley

14. Verrills
15. Collins
16. Tupouniua
17. Liu
18. Butcher

The key players remain while young talent is available to replace aging stars. Their attack will no doubt come back as one of the best in the competition while there is every chance a revitalised squad returns to be a top-three defensive team.

This is far from the end of the Roosters dynasty.

But that doesn't mean there is no place for dynasty conversations at the moment. We've been hearing for years that the Melbourne Storm as we know it is coming to an end. The conversation reached high points following the departures of Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk, yet strangely, with Cameron Smith weighing up retirement and the very real possibility that the Storm dynasty is, in fact, coming to an end, it's barely rating a mention.

The departure of the third and final member of Melbourne's famously successful Big 3 could be confirmed in a matter of days - now that would be the end of a dynasty.

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Jason Oliver

As far as Jason is concerned, there is no better time of year than March through June. An overlap of the NBA and NRL seasons offer up daily opportunities to find an edge and fund the ever-increasing number of sports streaming services he subscribes to. If there's an underdog worth taking in either code, he'll be on it.

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