Cooper Cronk has defended the Roosters' resting policy as the club fights to rediscover their best football during a torrid Origin period.
Coach Trent Robinson has rested Cronk, Latrell Mitchell and Angus Crichton at different times throughout their three-game losing streak and when they face the Bulldogs on Sunday, the premiers will almost certainly be without Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco.
Calling for calm: Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk looks to put Sitili Tupouniua into a hole on Sunday.Credit:NRL Photos
The lack of star power – coupled with injuries to Jake Friend and Luke Keary – have seen the club drop three straight games for the first time in three years.
That may provoke some clubs to "throw everything out the window", as Cronk put it, but the premiers will be doing no such thing.
"You can look at it in the sense that we lost to Newcastle, we lost here [to Penrith] and you can throw everything out the window because you lost but the one thing that Trent Robinson is really, really good at is sticking to his guns," Cronk told the Herald.
"He knows what systems he has and he’s flexible – he will listen to advice – but history shows he’s pretty good at getting the team going in the direction that he needs."
History shows Trent Robinson's pretty good at getting the team going in the direction that he needs.
After the 19-10 loss to the Panthers, Robinson refused to use the mix of injuries and Origin availability as an excuse for subpar performances.
His star playmaker is on the same page.
"While there are injuries and the Origin period, you have to instil confidence and a fundamental belief in those guys that do come up," Cronk said.
"We get judged on wins and losses, that’s the aim of this whole competition.
"We’ve lost three on the trot so obviously there will be question marks there but I’m telling you right now, the mood or the confidence in what we can do hasn’t faltered once.
"There is no doubt that our best football is still in front of us."
Injuries and Robinson's plan to rest his Origin stars aside, Cronk believes the team's slump boils down to one flaw.
Through his eyes, the team's defence isn't at the level which carried them to premiership glory last year.
When it takes a step forward, two steps back soon follow.
"I think the circumstances of each of the three games have an impact but any team coached by Trent Robinson is all about defence," Cronk said.
"If you’re not playing well and you defend well, it keeps you in the game to at least come up with a play to win the game.
"There are a few things defensively that Trent has been harping on [about] and we need to keep working on those.
"At the moment it feels like we are taking two steps back with our defence to move forward.
"Whatever happens over the next month, I dare say most of our attention is going to be on the process and the principles of our defensive system."
If that defensive system is patched up by the time the club's Origin stars no longer have representative football to worry about, Cronk believes a fairytale finish to his career is well within reach.
"This is the reality of NRL football. It’s the toughest competition in the world," he said.
"We cop the criticism and cop whatever is coming but we will stay on course.
"We believe in what we are doing."
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